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Cruising with the Soroptomists

Bras for a Cause raises support, funds for Circle of Hope and Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center

Posted: October 6, 2010 3:15 p.m.
Updated: October 7, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Martha Kelley, of Valencia, was excited over her ‘Destination Beauty’ bra decorated by Lahoma Cronk, paired with prizes from Tranquility Salon and Spa at the Bras for a Cause benefit held at the Oaks Grille located inside Tournament Players Club on Sunday.

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It was smooth sailing all the way as Soroptimist International of Santa Clarita Valley launched its seventh annual Bras for a Cause fundraiser Sunday at the Oaks Grille located inside the Tournament Players Club in Valencia to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Event chair Kathy Rutherford captained a lively and spirited “3-hour tour” for about 200 guests as they embarked on the SS Soroptimist for a cruise around the world in the form of exotic and artistic bras representing major “Ports ‘O Call” that were auctioned off to raise funds.

The funds raised will benefit Circle of Hope, Inc., a Santa Clarita Valley organization that offers emotional and financial assistance to women with breast cancer, and the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Cancer Imaging Center at Valencia’s Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

While perusing the many amazing silent-auction items, the ladies swayed to the music of steel drums, enjoyed a range of varietals at the wine tasting or sipped tropical drinks at the bar.

Everyone savored succulent hors d’ouevres inspired by world-class cuisine such as sushi, chicken enchiladas and tender beef kabobs before heading into the back room to enjoy a fantastical collection of desserts and cakes.

The hit of the dessert table was a bra-shaped cake donated for auction by Nanci Olmos of Clarice’s Cakes.

Charter College and Remo Drums sponsored the event, while guests had the opportunity to purchase an opportunity ticket to win a Princess Cruise for two to either the Caribbean or Mexican Riviera.

Throughout the afternoon, bidding was enthusiastic for the exotic and beautiful bras, much to the joy of husbands who helped carry the winning prizes to their cars.

Additionally, supporting vendors crowded the Newhall room with merchandise including beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, one-of-a-kind clothing and bags.

Vendors included whimsical and unusual greeting cards from Phoenix Trading, fun items from Soroptimists Wendy Smith and Irmgard Beer of SoSaree/BlingityBling, and Harriette Knight of Charity Clarity Healing Jewelry, who showed off her unique necklaces and bracelets.

Soroptimist International
Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women in management and professions, working to advance human rights and the status of women.

The organization currently has more than 90,000 members in more than 3,000 clubs in 124 countries.

The name Soroptimist means “best for women.” Soroptimists work to promote social justice and equity and the empowerment of women worldwide through economic independence and greater participation in decision-making at all levels.

For instance, because Haiti is part of Soroptimists European federation, Soroptimist International of the Americas has made a donation of $10,000 to Soroptimist International of Europe to support immediate disaster-relief efforts for women and girls.

Chartered Dec. 3, 1974, Soroptimist International of Santa Clarita Valley celebrates its 36th anniversary.

The SCV is home to two of the 27 clubs in the region, Soroptimist International of SCV and Soroptimist International of Greater SCV. SISCV president Donna Kreutz adopted “Putting Passion into Action,” for her platform this year.

Helping Kruetz this term is president-elect Sandi Naba, who acted as emcee for the event; co-vice president, ways, Sharyn Buncick; co-vice president, means, Kathy Rutherford; treasurer Janet Hudson; recording secretary Pam Jaffke; corresponding secretary Karen Ilich; director one-year Wendy Smith; director two-year Kaye Cruger and parliamentarian Lori Hollister.

Some of the club’s major programs include Soroptimist Empowering Women or SEW, which mends the lives of women and girls touched by violence and the Women’s Opportunity Award, that provides helps women gain additional skills, training and education.

Dora Zavala has just been voted onto the board of Soroptimist International of the Americas Camino Real Region, representing 27 clubs with a combined total of 800 members. The irrepressible Cheri Fleming of Valencia Acura has been elected to the Federation Board Membership of Soroptimist International of the Americas, representing 19 countries and 36,000 members.

“This is a big deal for us,” Fleming said of having both representatives from the SCV. “The great thing is both clubs support breast cancer awareness.”

Fleming said she is proud of many of the accomplishments achieved during her term as governor of Soroptimist International of the Americas Camino Real Region. Clubs under her leadership raised $740,529, which helped 18,431 women and 11,367 girls.

“This experience was more rewarding than I could ever have imagined,” said Fleming, despite it being the “biggest volunteer commitment, requiring the most time commitment and the hugest chunk of work you could ever imagine.”

Soroptimist in service
During one of its meetings in January, the SISCV embarked on a project known as the as the “Pink Beijo Bag Project.”
Comforting items, including a note from Soroptimist members, many of whom are cancer survivors, are placed inside the bags, and donated to the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center.

The bags are given to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at the center.

Supported by a donation from Susan Handley, owner and designer of Beijo Bags, it will become an ongoing project for the club.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I know how important it is to have a great support system,” Kreutz said.

New Soroptimists
In January, Kathy Kuric, a long time supporter of the club, officially joined the SISCV.

Also inducted that day was Rachael Cleveland, who works at Augusta Financial.

Kelly Inga, a financial planner, joined Soroptimists just before she found out her sister had breast cancer.

Inga said as a single mother of a daughter and two boys, she had been too caught up in work and home for the past six years.

“I wanted to help someone other than my family or kids,” she said of joining Soroptimists six months ago.

Bras for a Cause
A cornerstone of Bras for a Cause is the fabulously decorated bras accompanied by luxury items like jewelry, trips, wine, purses, boots and gift certificates.

Cute and clever pairings included the Irish-themed the Mardi Bra decorated by Kathy Rutherford and “Down Underwire” for the Port of Sydney donated by Sharyn Buncick, also decorated by Rutherford.

“Asian Beauty, Port of Singapore” included adorable boots customized with sparkles donated by Wendy Smith; the sexy and wearable Bahama Mama was donated by Margo Hudson and decorated by Janet Kachorsky.

Colleen Shafer of Circle of Hope Inc. donated the fabulous red, white and blue bustier, “Cruising America, all Ports of Call” set that included sexy pair of thigh-high red boots and a cute captain’s hat.

Ray J. Tippet, who has just become the first hired executive director of Circle of Hope, Inc., won the set and promptly donned the cap.

Appropriately, Shafer won the Mexican Riviera Cruise donated by Princess Cruises.

Angela Ilich attended Bras for a Cause with her mother, long-time Soroptimist Karen Ilich of the Travel Center of Santa Clarita. Angela Ilich won the amazing ‘Honeymoon Cruise,’ a bra of creamy pure white satin and decorated with flowers by Kathy Kuric of Skyblue Pink; Ilich said the set would be given a friend, who is planning her wedding.

Reflecting on her 27 years of service to Soroptimists, Karen Ilich declared the 2010 ‘Bras for a Cause’ to be one of the best so far.

“I am so happy my friends and daughter were here to enjoy it,” she said. “It’s only one afternoon, but you can have fun, eat and raise funds for a good cause, all in three hours.”

At the end of the event, a few women commented that while the bras they won were indeed spectacular, they weren’t sure they would fit their too large or too small bosoms.

“Hey, as long as they are healthy, is doesn’t matter what size they are,” said Martha Kelley of Valencia and a nurse for Health Way.

Kelley won the “Destination Beauty” bra from Tranquility Salon and Spa decorated by Lahoma Cronk.

Soroptimists encourage all women to get a mammogram during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To schedule an appointment at the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center, call (661) 253-8822. For information on Soroptimist International of SCV, visit


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