More than a hundred years ago a group of women decided to start a service organization because they weren’t allowed to join clubs that were men-only.
These women took matters in their own hands and founded Soroptimist International, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls all over the world. Since then, women across the world have begun chapters in their local communities, according to Laura Chesler, president-elect of Soroptimist International of Valencia.
“Soroptimist is loosely translated from Greek and means best for women,” Chesler said. “The soroptimists are here for the betterment of women and girls. We have a bunch of different programs and our breast cancer awareness event is our biggest event.”
Soroptimist International of Valencia hosted its annual Bras for a Cause – Wanderlust on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. The money raised from the event goes back into the local community, whether it’s hospitals, women going through chemotherapy, or supporting survivors of breast cancer.
“Sometimes it’s overwhelming because you feel alone or that you may be overtaxing your loved ones,” Chesler said. “That’s not true. Everyone deserves the chance to get aid. We really want women to not feel alone, and to take that step and reach out because your story is meaningful and important to you and your health just as the next person.”
Cory Peterson, the director of Soroptimist Empowering Women, was one of five co-chairs organizing the event. She said tickets sold out less than a month after they announced Bras for a Cause.
“We don’t have a final net revenue,” Chesler said. “We’ll be announcing our donations to the Shelia R. Veloz Breast Center of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and another nonprofit dedicated to helping cancer patients in a month or two while we finish counting all the money made from the night.”
Both Chesler and Peterson agreed they had a successful night as they sold out on tickets and had approximately 320 attendees who came to support Bras for a Cause.
Peterson said they decided on a wanderlust theme for the night’s event because of how COVID-19 prevented them hosting their annual event last year as they had to do an online-fundraiser.
“We’ve been all cooped up for the last year and a half and we had this idea that if we could go anywhere, wherever, where would you like to go,” Peterson said. “So, each of our models wore handmaid bras which represented a different destination.”
Organizers had more than 15 models walk their runway. Each model represented a different destination and represented a silent auction gift basket. Attendees could bid on these baskets, which also included the hand-made bras modeled by the women.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, attended Bras for a Cause with his wife. He added that charity events like this are an excellent way to help the community.
“It’s important that we support these events,” Garcia said. “There are so many people who are fighting cancer, and many of them are dying. Santa Clarita is one of the best cities because we have community offering aid to those in need.”
Guest speakers Dortha Chu, a surgical oncologist with the City of Hope, and Michelle Geifbaurer talked about the importance of early detection. Geifbaurer shared that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy.
Peterson and Chesler said that early detection was their main message for Bras for a Cause. They said they want women to reach out for anything.
“To me as long as you have hope, you’ve got everything,” Peterson said, after sharing she is a cancer survivor. “Let’s just get through today. Just win the day.”
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