Soroptimist International of Fairfax County (SIFC) is a member of the South Atlantic Region of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA), the largest of the four Federations of Soroptimist International. Soroptimist International (SI) is an international volunteer organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls. SI was founded in 1921 in California. SI now has over 100,000 members in 120 countries and territories. Soroptimist is a coined word from the Greek soro, meaning sister, and optima, meaning best.
SIFC was chartered in 1945, and has raised money over the years to support many local facilities and programs that provide medical care and treatment, end-of-life services, shelter for the victims of domestic violence, cancer research, care for the elderly, and transitional training and services to assist low-income or indigent women and families. SIFC has also funded scholarships and grants to improve youth citizenship and volunteerism and to assist women who are head-of- household improve their lives through education.
SIFC participates in two signature projects of the Soroptimist International of the Americas, The Woman’s Opportunity Award and the Violet Richardson Award. The Woman’s Opportunity Award is a grant to a female head-of-household who is striving to improve her life through education. The Violet Richardson Award, named for the founder of Soroptimist International, recognizes a young woman (14-17) for outstanding volunteer commitment to the community.
SIFC has recently focused its giving on filling the small gaps that larger donor programs miss. We provided gas money for an Allied Health and Nursing Partnership client to help her get to her practical training site to complete her certification. We funded duct cleaning for one of the Pathways residences and gym membership for some residents. For the last several Christmases we provided gifts of household goods and small appliances to clients of Bethany House. We provide scholarships to women entrepreneurs (through the Women’s Business Center) to attend certification programs at Northern Virginia Community College and the Women’s Business Center. In late October, we will sponsor a Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award under the auspices of the Women’s Business Center.
SIFC also partners with other organizations that seek to improve the lives of women and girls. For example, we are currently sponsoring a NOVACO client, and working with NOVACO on grant development and strategic planning.
SIFC supports its causes from funds raised through a variety of sources. For twenty years, we sponsored a spring Antique Show at George Mason and hope to do so again, perhaps in a smaller venue. We also sell White House Christmas Ornaments and beer at Celebrate Fairfax.
SIFC currently meets the first Wednesday of each month for dinner and business, and we schedule program meetings as necessary. Our biggest focus right now is on expanding membership and developing new fund raising opportunities so we can do even more to improve the lives of women and girls in Fairfax County.