From Cheeky Chicks to Soroptimist…Focus on Elissa Wildermuth


Score another point for Meetup…and Bunco!  SIHB member, Georgette, owner of The Girl Cave in Huntington Beach reached out to her Meetup Group to announce a Bunco Fundraiser.  When Elissa heard about it, she asked Geogette what is Soroptimist?  Georgette explained.  Elissa came to our Bunco Fundraiser….And even though Elissa lives in Whittier…she decided to join our group…this past December.

Elissa was unaware of Soroptimist before she spoke with Georgette and when she experienced for herself, the impact we had on the lives of women and their families, she was drawn to our cause, improving the lives of women and girls…and equally as important, to SI Huntington Beach!  In her own words, “The opportunities the ladies have had after receiving mentoring, funds and scholarships (Live Your Dream Awards) is life changing, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of it.”

So for Elissa, becoming a Soroptimist has given her the chance to make a difference in lives of women and girls and she has jumped right in.

Although Elissa hasn’t joined the board yet (we’ll give her a year), she is already an active member of the club.

So…let’s get to know Elissa a little bit better….

  • She is a retired account manager/inside sales.
  • She and her husband, Jerry, have dedicated one of their bedrooms as Elissa’s Craft Room where she spends a few days a week crafting shabby chic Victorian wreaths, decoupage boxes and more and anticipates re-opening her Etsy store.  To learn more about Elissa’s Etsy store, including its name, you will need to ask Elissa the next time you see her.
  • Elissa loves to take walk in a nearby, “lovely” park, and she is a member of the YMCA where her husband, Jerry, is a personal trainer.  To find out if Elissa trains with Jerry, you will have to ask her 🙂
  • Along with Soroptimist, Elissa is involved with a church group that helps underemployed families – mainly single mothers.  She actively gives and provides staples when needed.
  • When asked what her hobbies are, Elissa replied art, crafting and wine tasting…so easy to see why Elissa fits in so well with us!
  • Elissa and Jerry like to travel for fun and recently has gone to Napa, Carmel, Pismo Beach and Paso Robles (at least 2 of those areas known for wine).  They also spend a week during the summer with family in Carpenteria….and Elissa enjoys a sister reunion at least once a year with her sister who lives in Port Angeles, Washington. And…what do the sisters do when they are together? They stay in bed and breakfast places, go to music festivals and guess what….? They go wine tasting!
  • Elissa met her “wonderful” husband in church and this past May, they celebrated their 42nd anniversary!
  • Elissa says she and Jerry are “polar opposites”: he: type A, extremely outgoing; she:needs to warm up to people…but, according to Elissa, “we have weathered many storms over the years and are now pretty darn happy together.”
  • Elissa and Jerry have two grown children: Leah, 39, who is single and will begin classes this year to become and therapist and Michael, 37, who is married to Jen, is a lineman apprentice with the electric company, City of Burbank, and who has two children, granddaughers Avery and Vivien.  Elissa says Jerry is a “fabulous grandpa”, and I would be willing to bet she is a fabulous grandma, too.
  • If Elissa could describe herself in one word, it would be caring.

We are honored that Elissa chose to become a member of Soroptimist International Huntington Beach and are looking forward to many years of friendship and service with her!




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Spotlight On Our Partner… Project Self-Sufficiency


Soroptimist International Huntington Beach enjoys a very long-standing relationship with Project Self-Sufficiency (PSS).

Both organizations have complimentary missions: to improve the lives of women and their children through access to education. The following is taken directly from their website:
“Project Self-Sufficiency is a community-based program in Orange County, California, assisting low income, single parents to achieve economic independence through education, training, and social services.
Graduates from PSS leave with a new sense of self that reaches far beyond the program. These parents become leaders and contributors in the community; they feel pride in their accomplishments that is reflected in the eyes of their children.”

For the most part, we serve the same community.  While we serve only women and girls, PSS serves:
98% Single mothers
2% Single fathers
100% Low Income
100% Enrolled in college
56% Full time college students
50.3% Inadequate housing

And most of the women we serve are in the Project Self-Sufficiency Program.

We cherish our relationship with PSS.  Most of our Dolly Wakeham (adopted) moms are also PSS moms.  Most of our Live Your Dream honorees are also PSS moms, and we look forward to continuing and growing this relationship for years to come…until their are no low income, single mothers who are going to school and often working too, in Orange County.,

For years we have supported PSS at holiday time and with a scholarship for their June Recognition Program.  This year was no exception.  Our President, Marcelle Capps, and I along with Laura Syzdek, who is also very active in PSS and the Huntington Beach Assistance League along with Soroptimist Huntington Beach, attended the June Recognition Program.
It warmed our hearts to see so many women we have served receive recognition and scholarships at this annual event.  We were thrilled that another member of SIHB, Alisa Armstrong, gave several scholarships and even more excited when we discovered that the SIHB scholarship was being awarded to one of our 2017-18 Live Your Dream honorees, Yulia!

Our joy didn’t stop there as many of the women who received recognition and scholarships that evening were current or former Live Your Dream honorees, like Allison (there were actually 2 Allisons from 2 different years), Charity, Rae, Megan and Jennifer, to name a few.

As Marcelle & I were leaving the event, I was reminded of the song, We are Family by Sister Sledge as we are all in the same community, a community of women helping women, with the same objectives…and so I leave you with this thought:

Leadership quote: Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

With great pride,



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Introducing Spirit….the new Soroptimist Huntington Beach Spokes-Puppy


Introducing Spirit

For the last 4 years, River, our Belgian Sheepdog, has been the SI Huntington Beach Spokes-Dog.  It all began in 2014, when River and I walked 3 miles round trip from our home to the Huntington Beach Pier to raise funds to help improve the lives of women and girls for our club.

That first year, River raised $380…not bad for one dog and no advertising.  But, River thought he could do better…and the next year, he gathered both four and two-footed friends plus many generous sponsors and donors, and they walked together, raising over $5,800!

Thus…the Walk to Make a Difference (aka The River Walk) was born.

River Rose raises funds and walks to make a difference

Unfortunately, in November 2017, at the age of 9, River went to the Rainbow Bridge but, he sent me a message before he left that we would not be alone or without someone to carry on his mission….to help improve the lives of women and girls primarily through the Soroptimist International of the Americas two signature programs, Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for women and Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls.

I found a breeder in California, and on December 7, 2017, Spirit was born.  Not only is Spirit a black Belgian Sheepdog with a white blaze like River’s, she is also his niece…and ready to carry on his legacy.

And so, Spirit invites you to ” Catch The Spirit” and join her for Soroptimist Huntington Beach’s 5th Annual Walk to Make a Difference on Sunday, June 24, 2018 beginning at 10:00AM at the Huntington Beach Pier.  Sponsors and donations welcome.  More information coming soon!

Warm wishes,

Terry & Spirit


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Honoring The Women We Serve – February 22, 2018


On February 22nd, we held our annual “Honoring The Women We Serve” Program Meeting….from my perspective, the best meeting of the year….because, it is at this meeting where we get to experience the impact we have made in the lives of the women we serve.  It is at this meeting where we gain a deeper understanding of our mission: to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment!

We caught up with women we have served in the past from Mira and Chelsea to Sally and Megan.

Mira is planning to retire in a few years and move back to Serbia where she wants to start a Soroptimist Club in her town….Chelsea has purchased her own, first home….Sally completed the Mortuary Science Program at Cypress College and is working in her field and….Megan, still a culinary student at Orange Coast College, has started her own catering business and will be moving into a new home in March!

We recapped our Day of Empowerment and expressed our gratitude to the Assistance League of Huntington Beach, especially Doris Kennedy and Laura Syzdek and to Evangelia Rosales and the students at Golden West College who provided hair and make up services.














We celebrated our long-standing relationships with Project Self-Sufficiency and Build Futures.

And we honored 5 women this year with Live Your Dream Awards….which is 2 more than we honored last year….and we gave away more money to each woman this year as well…thanks in part to a generous donation from AES!  

Introducing our 2017-18 Live Your Dream Honorees:

Kat , who attends Orange Coast College, wants to create sustainable textiles…Charity is completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services with an emphasis on Mental Health at Cal State Fullerton (after graduating from Coastline College)…Tammi is completing the Esthetician Program at Golden West College and also completing her AA in Communications.  She will use her Esthetician license as another way to support her daughter and herself while she completes her education.  Michelle, a student at Coastline Community College is pursuing a career as a Registered Dietician….and Yulia, also at Orange Coast College, wants to become a Math Teacher.

It is with our deepest gratitude that we thank this women who allow us into their lives and we thank our partners and supporters who continue to enable us to improve the lives of women and girls both locally and around the world!

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Coming Events You Won’t Want To Miss!


This is such an important week for Soroptimist Huntington Beach; I just couldn’t let it slip by with a little promotion!

The FIRST ever BUNCO BRUNCHO FUNdrai$er at The Girl Cave!  What a way to spend your (extended) lunch hour…..Laugh a lot….Eat tasty tidbits….Maybe even win a prize…No experience necessary….All you need to know how to do is roll dice…and there’s only 3 of them!!  Not to mention, it is for a great cause…helping to improve the lives of women & girls through programs leading to social & economic empowerment!

And…if that is not enough….the most important program meeting of our year….Honoring The Women We Serve…..Meet our 2017-18 Live Your Dream Honorees…plus….hear from women we have served in the past!  Invite your friends, family and co-workers…this is such an amazing meeting!


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Orange County a Big, Lucrative Market for Sex Trafficking


The following information was published in the Orange County Register, September 13, 2016.


A new report has led those who work with victims of human trafficking to an unsavory conclusion about Orange County’s wealth: Perpetrators know they can bring victims here to sell for sex acts at a higher price than anywhere else in California.

“Whatever the price in Los Angeles County, whatever the price in San Diego County, it’s going to be twice the price in Orange County and it’s going to be worth the trip for them,” said Lita Mercado, an administrator with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, which will release its annual report today.

This is the fourth year that the task force, a partnership of law enforcement, service providers, nonprofits and faith organizations, has produced its Human Trafficking Victim Report.

Members of the task force, including Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and local police chiefs, will discuss the report and local strategy to combat human trafficking at a news conference this morning.

For the first time, the task force report looks at the origins of victims who have been rescued in Orange County, along with the origins of perpetrators who have been prosecuted here.

The majority in both cases are from other California counties or out of state, the report says, based on a review of data from 2012 to 2015 by Community Service Programs, administrator of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Of 231 domestic sex trafficking victims studied over the three-year period, only 22 percent were from Orange County. Of the remainder, 56 percent hailed from other California counties and another 22 percent from out of state.

Sex trafficking accounted for the exploitation of more than three-fourths of the 137 new victims of human trafficking identified and assisted with services last year in Orange County, according to the report.

A total of 225 human trafficking victims were being provided services in Orange County in 2015, a number that includes people brought here to perform labor and victims identified the previous year.

The vast majority of victims were adult females, the report shows.

“Orange County is clearly a destination location,” said Mercado, director of victims assistance programs for CSP. “The victims are being brought here specifically and purposely because the perpetrators know there is a demand here for forced sex.”

Mercado said the youngest victim receiving services from her program was 13 and the oldest was 60.

Harbor and Beach boulevards, with their density of motels and hotels, are major sex trafficking corridors and Orange County, based on what perpetrators tell police, is a highly lucrative market, Mercado added.

“What pimps and traffickers are saying to us is they can up the price and they know they are going to get takers,” Mercado said.

Los Angeles County is different from Orange County, Mercado said, in that most of the human trafficking victims and perpetrators there are homegrown.

The top 10 hometowns in California of trafficking victims assisted in Orange County included Los Angeles at No. 1, and three local municipalities: Anaheim, Santa Ana and Fullerton.

The report does not look at the sex purchasers, or “johns” in the common vernacular, to review whether they are mostly locals or travelers from elsewhere.

Since its formation in 2004, the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force has helped more than 580 sex and labor trafficking victims, adults and minors.

In addition to an increased focus by law enforcement to crack down on human trafficking and growing outreach by social service programs to assist victims, the task force has worked to raise public awareness.

A major federally funded campaign launched in 2014, called “Be The One” or BT1, involved ads on Orange County Transportation Authority buses and at bus shelters, along with training more than 1,100 OCTA drivers on how to spot victims of human trafficking aboard their buses.

Mercado credits public awareness efforts for increasing the number of calls made statewide to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. California has had more calls to that hotline than any other state, Mercado said.

Theresa Walker is a Southern California native who has been a staff writer at The Orange County Register since 1992. She specializes in human interest stories and social issues, such as homelessness. She also covers nonprofits and philanthropy in Orange County. She loves telling stories about ordinary people who do the extraordinary in their communities.

And in March, 2017:

IRVINE ( — Authorities say they’ve uncovered a massive international sex trafficking ring in Southern California.

Prosecutors announced the arrest of four people connected to the Orange County-based enterprise that allegedly placed thousands of ads for sexual services in 29 states over the past two years.

Human trafficking knows no economic boundaries….Human trafficking is not just in low income areas….It is right here in our backyard.

Come and join us on January 25, 2018 to hear our panel on Human Trafficking.  It is one of the most important programs of the year.  You can still RSVP.

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January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month


January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, also known as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We encourage you to join us throughout the month as we come together to raise awareness of human trafficking and combine our efforts to prevent it.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed every year on January 11.

About Human Trafficking

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of human trafficking” as, “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is inducted by force, fraud, and coercion, or in which the person inducted to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or,
  • Labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, and coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”

Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, is a widespread form of modern-day slavery. It’s a crime that involves the exploitation of a person for the purpose of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. If a person younger than 18 is inducted to perform a commercial sex act, it is considered a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion. Human traffickers target all populations around the world and in our own neighborhoods: women, men, youth, children, citizens, non-citizens, English speakers, non-English speakers. Some groups, such as runaway and homeless youth, native individuals, domestic violence victims, and LGBTQ population are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Victims are recruited and lured by traffickers with the false promise of a better life, love, and job opportunities. Later, traffickers use violence, threats, and manipulation to controls their victims. Homeless youth who are forced to trade sexual acts with an adult in exchange of something of value (i.e. shelter, food) are considered victims of domestic sex trafficking.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise of this century, growing from a nine billion to a 32 billion dollar global industry in a little over a decade. There is no typical trafficker, and it has been shown that traffickers can be parents or other close family members, family friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, employers, smugglers or strangers.  Traffickers can be part of an organized enterprise or can work alone. Street gangs, for example, are known to traffic minors into the drug and sex markets. Don’t ignore the facts. Slavery exists and we can work together to end it.
–source National Safe Place Network

Join us on at our January 25, 2018 Program Meeting and learn more about Human Trafficking in Orange County.  For more information, click on our Meetings & Events tab or contact us at

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We Are Proud Of Our Accomplishments That Help Improve The Lives of Women & Girls


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At our last business meeting of 2017, President Marcelle read a list of what we have accomplished since our 2017-18 year officially began in September 2017 (but what really began at our planning retreat in August)!

Sometimes we feel we aren’t doing enough….Sometimes we feel we should be doing more (and heaven only knows I am one of those people)….so, it is good to remind ourselves of what we have done.


  • Prepared Mitzvah Meals twice for various homeless shelters at Temple Beth Sholom.  Thanks Rachel for organizing that fun, ongoing connection!
  • Donated and delivered a full-size bed to a senior lady referred to us from the Huntington Beach Senior Center. One member donated the bed and another member provided the transportation to get the bed delivered.
  • Donated a scooter to a senior lady referred to us from the Senior Center. The scooter was donated by a member.
  • Collected  diapers at our annual club Planning Retreat in August and donated them to the CARE Programs at Orange Coast College, Golden West College and Coastline College
  • Adopted 3 moms and 6 children for the year as supported by the Dolly Wakeham fund and club members generosity.
  • Celebrated 2 Dolly Wakeham kids’ birthday (twins).
  • Assembled 38 jars filled with toiletries, socks, snacks, etc. which we donated to Colette’s Children’s Home at our first Program Meeting in September.  We also introduced two of our Dolly Wakeham moms at this meeting who jumped right in and helped create the jars.
  • Helped one of our Dolly Wakeham moms’ move from a domestic violence shelter to her own apartment. Members donated money, furniture, household items and staples and helped with her move-in.  One member donated a large sectional sofa and another member arranged to have the sofa picked up and delivered right to the mom’s apartment.  Thanks to some very generous donations from our members, we were able to purchase new beds for her two children (which we delivered and helped assemble), pillows for her couch, a desk that folds up and hangs on the wall, new pots & pans, dishes and more.
  • Received 14 applications for the Live Your Dream program. The Live Your Dream Committee met and selected 5 honorees who will receive awards, four at $1,000  and one at $1,500.  We also purchased a new computer for one of the applicants whom we did not choose but who was in desperate need of a computer.  We shared the  remaining 9 applications with other clubs in our district and region and hope that all will be selected to receive an award.
  • Worked with the Newport Harbor Area club to conduct a 7-week Dream, It Be It curriculum to over 20 at-risk,  female High School students at the Back Bay High School in Newport Beach.
  • Donated $600 to the Youth Shelter as evidenced by the snowflake at the Huntington Beach pier in December.
  • Donated 2 scooters, 2 pairs of roller skates  and 1 skate board for the children who attended Project Self Sufficiency’s Christmas Party in December.
  • Adopted 3 ladies from the Huntington Beach Senior Center for Christmas and bought them items from their Christmas Wish list.
  • Raised approximately $3,600 at our annual Wine Tasting fundraiser in October.
  • Raised over $5,000 at our annual Stay Home for the Holidays ask.
  • Held a Christmas party for the Dolly Wakeham families at Leslie Miller’s home where we showered them with presents from the Christmas wish lists and more.
  • Purchased a Christmas tree, tree stand and lights for one of our Dolly Wakeham moms and gave her a few gently loved ornaments to help her and her two children celebrate their first Christmas in their new home.
  • Paid for car repairs for one of our Dolly Wakeham moms.

And that is only what we have done since August!

I know I join President Marcelle in saying THANK YOU and wishing each and everyone one of you and your families and happy, healthy, caring & sharing 2018!

Hugs to all,


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Notable Events – January 2018


As we open a new chapter in our book of life, here are some facts you may or may not know.

  • January 3, 1949 – Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) starts her tenure in the Senate, where she stays in office until 1973, became the first woman to serve in both the House and Senate as she previously served in the House (1940-49)
  • January 5, 1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross is inaugurated as the first woman Governor in U.S. history (Governor of Wyoming)
  • January 7, 1896 – Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook is published in which she standardized cooking measurements
  • January 7, 1955 – Marian Anderson is the first African American woman to sing at the Metropolitan Opera
  • January 8, 1977 – Pauli Murray is ordained as the first female African American Episcopal priest
  • January 11, 1935 – Amelia Earhart makes the first solo flight from Hawaii to North America
  • January 12, 1932 – Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-Arkansas) is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, becomes the first woman to chair a Senate Committee and the first to serve as the Senate’s presiding officer
  • January 25, 1980 – Mary Decker became the first woman to run a mile under 4 1/2 minutes, running it at 4:17.55
  • January 29, 1926 – Violette Neatly Anderson is the first black woman to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court
  • January 29, 2018 – February 7, 2018 – The United Nations 56th Session of the Commission for Social Development whose priority them for the 2018 policy cycle is to come up with strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.  For more information on this, go to:

    And we also have some special birthdays to remember:
    January 4: Cathy Standiford

And….don’t forget…our first fundraiser of the year…BUNCO (who can resist?) on January 16th!


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Thoughts to Ponder


Here are some thoughts to ponder as we end 2017 and begin 2018

This one from our amazing Recording Secretary, Leslie Miller:

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If you have a favorite quote (your own or someone else’s) that has a tie in to our mission of improving the lives of women and girls that you would like included in an upcoming post, please email it to me.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!



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