Fall News From Whitefish Soroptimist


Soroptimist International of Whitefish | Box 1843 | Whitefish, MT

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President’s Message

As the Fall season is underway, I can’t help but equate the seasonal changes visible around us to changes our Soroptimist Club makes in the lives of women and girls whom we serve.  

I so look forward to guiding our club on our journey towards helping women and girls transform their lives through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. I anticipate great things in store for our Dream It Be It and Live Your Dream Programs this year through robust work at the committee level.  

I see communication with one another as the first action our club makes in order to help women and girls, so my main goal for this year is to improve our way of sharing information with each other and the community.  It’s important to me that all members are able to find and access complete and accurate information about our club.

Some of the steps I’ll take towards achieving that goal are: 
1. Oversee financial records transformation to electronic format with Quickbooks On-line;
2. Ensure all club policies and procedures are documented;
3. Ensure we have a current, accessible calendar of events;
4. Provide meeting documents in advance of the meeting and show them on big screen at the meetings;
5. Ensure all documents are in electronic format and available to members online, and in paper format for those not online.

My hope is that improved communication with each other will translate to more good we do for others.

Here’s to a fun-filled, information-shared, communication-channeled year of empowering women and girls!

Jennifer Fugatt, President

Soroptimist International, Whitefish


Our History


Bonnie Baker (President Elect) recently shared this article about Soroptimist founder, Violet Richardson-Ward from the Soroptimist International Camino Real Region. 

Violet Richardson, the president of the first Soroptimist club in Alameda County in 1921, believed in personal responsibility and the motto,

“It’s what you do that counts.”

She lived her life accordingly, as an active member in her community who was committed to creating opportunities for girls and young women.

I was inspired by Violet’s ambition, resolve and courage to be a “rebel rouser” and stubbornly fight for equal pay, women’s opportunity and ending discrimination.  

Her tenacity reminds me that there is still plenty to fight for in our effort to help others. It’s why we are Soroptimist members and it’s why we volunteer our time and energy to make our world a better place. 

We’re off to another great year with new leadership, new members, new ideas and new opportunities to help others. 

Here is a link to the full article:


Photo Gallery

A few photos to kick off the first business and dinner meeting.
It wasn’t all committee reports and spreadsheets! 

NEW MEMBERS: Cheryl, Hope and Linda

Meet Fellow Soroptimist Member 

Name:  Cheryl Harber

Family: I have one son, Steve, who is currently the night freight manager at Home Depot in Kalispell.  He lives in Bigfork.  I have one daughter, Jennie, a former SI Bigfork member, who is an insurance agent at Payne West Insurance in Bigfork. Both are college graduates – Steve from California State University, Northridge; and Jennie graduated from the University of Minnesota (with honors).  My husband’s daughter Julie, is a retired Senior Navy Chief, and my grandson Dirk, is currently in the California National Guard.  My husband passed away almost 6 years ago having succumbed to Alzheimer’s, after a nine year battle.

Occupation: (before retirement)  In California I worked in the purchasing departments of several small military parts suppliers and eventually got my Certificate of Purchasing Management.   We moved to Bigfork in 1990, where I opened my own sewing business – Nifty Needle. I was extremely busy and had the shop for 25 years.  I still do some alterations, etc., from my home.

Background:  I married my first husband in 1963, had two wonderful children, then divorced after 11 years.  I worked in the military procurement field from 1975-1988, where I met my second husband Charlie.  He was an avid chili cook, and I actually met him at the Balboa Bay Club in 1978, when his team won the California Chili Championship.  Thus began many years of following the “Chili Circuit” in So. Cal, Nevada and AZ.  He won several contests, and our team was “Ring of Fire Chili Company”.  One of our special projects was producing a Chili Cook-off for a school in the San Fernando Valley for handicapped children.  During the years we were involved, we raised about $250,000 for the children.  

Following our move to Bigfork I became very active in the Bigfork Retail Merchants Committee of the Bigfork Chamber. During my participation I ran the summer farmer’s market, served as secretary, co-chaired the annual Bigfork Festival of the Arts, and the annual Christmas activities.

I am a member of the Bigfork Ladies Service Club, (formerly Bigfork Lady Lions), since 2000.  I am on the core committee that organizes and operates the Huckleberry Shake booth at the Northwest Montana Fair every August.  

I am a 50-year member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and have belonged to 5 chapters, a charter member of two. I served in all the offices and committees several years and was Chairman of their Montana State Convention in 2000.  I then served as the Montana State Chairman of Cottey College, which is owned by the Sisterhood.

How did you get involved in Soroptimists?  The Bigfork Club was organized in 2003, and I attended several events, then became an official member in June of 2004.  

Offices and Committees: I have served as club president, treasurer and secretary, and a general board member.  I also served on most of the committees for awards and fundraisers, etc.  I am currently the Northwest Region Live Your Dream Representative for District 4.  In the Whitefish club I serve on the Trafficking Committee and the awards committees.

Why is the Soroptimist mission statement important in our society?  I am very supportive of the SIA’s focus on the betterment of women and children’s conditions in our society! These young children are our future, and it’s so very important that they receive help with their educations. The Thrift Haus is a wonderful way to support the community and without it, our mission wouldn’t be as widespread.  

Why are you a Soroptimist?   I am passionate about the traffic awareness campaign, the Expanding Your Horizons conference, and am a board member of the new Flathead Steam Alliance, which is now the umbrella group that produces the annual EYH event. My membership is very important to me, and I value the friendships I’ve made with members in the Bigfork and Whitefish clubs.

News from the Thrift Haus

Reminding those of you who may not know, Kathy Bergen & Jen George are the Thrift Haus Committee Co-Chairs!

We will be working together to keep our Thrift Haus running smoothly, if you have any questions or concerns we would love to help!

Here are a few things we are working on:

1) We will be creating a Tell N Sell Basket to raffle at our District Meeting in Fairmont Hot Springs.

2) We will be having a Sweating to the Oldies party at the Thrift Haus from 4:00 – 8:00, October 16, Tuesday. Everyone please come for food and fun!.

Live Your Dream Scholarship Program

 I wanted to make you all aware of a women’s scholarship award that Soroptimist offers.  It is called the Live Your Dream Scholarship.

The woman is eligible to apply for the scholarship award if she meets the following criteria:

  • Provides the primary financial support for herself and her dependents. Dependents can include children, spouse, partner, siblings & or parents.
  • Has financial need.
  • Is enrolled in or has been accepted to a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program.

The award can be up to $2000 at the District level. Recipients can then apply at regional level and receive as much as $10,000. 

The money can be used for any need they have…rent, utilities, car payment or school related expenses.  

We are trying to get the word out so if you know of anyone, please have them contact me. The deadline for applying is 11/15/18.

Thank you for taking the time to address this important issue.  

Bonnie Baker – bb.baker57@gmail.com

The View From Here:

Here are two surprising things I’ve discovered from sitting on the Soroptimist Whitefish Board.

1) The biggest challenge is finding a time when we can all meet.  We’ll figure that out. 

2) The next biggest challenge is wondering what all the members want. 
We will never figure that out without everyone’s input. I’m appreciating more and more that Soroptimist is a messy democracy, and we hope we’ll be hearing from folks with questions and feedback.

It’s helpful if we as members don’t only get our information from talk in the back room at the Thrift Haus. (Yeah, yeah, don’t deny it – I’ve been there talking myself!)

Please, give us a call and ask what’s going on.  Or ask to have it on the agenda so we can have a discussion. That way we can work from facts rather than assumptions. Just give it a try.

My number is 471-2210 and all the board members have phone numbers listed in the member directory.

Also, I encourage all of our members to sign up for the Soroptimist International newsletter. You can read this online at the SI website https://www.soroptimist.org, or sign up to have a print version sent to your address.  It’s free for members, and only two are sent out each year so it’s not too taxing.

Please contact me if you need any help in getting this newsletter. 

Mary Drew Powers,
SIWF Co-Treasurer & Communications Committee member.

Soroptimist Pledge

I pledge allegiance to Soroptimist
And to the ideals for which it stands;
The sincerity of friendship,
The joy of achievement,
The dignity of service,
The integrity of profession,
The love of country.
I will put forth my greatest effort
To promote, uphold and defend these ideals
For a larger fellowship in home,
in society, in business,
For country and for God.

Need more information about Soroptimist International? Visit their website at http://www.soroptimist.org

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