Soroptimist Club of Belleville

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Soroptimist Club of Belleville

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Dates of existence

fl. 1947-c.1966

History

The Soroptimist Club of Belleville was formed in May 1947, becoming the 289th club in the Soroptimist International Association and the first women’s service organization in Belleville, Ontario. The Peterborough Soroptimist Club sponsored the formation of the Belleville chapter. Mrs. Georgia Smith was elected the first charter president of the Soroptimist Club of Belleville with Dr. Lily B. Mathieson as 1st Vice President, Mrs. Agnes Caton as 2nd Vice President, Miss Mary Lloyd as Secretary, Mrs. Inda A. Drew as Treasurer, and Miss Laura M. Johnston, Mrs. Mary L. Quinn, Miss Helen Keeler, and Miss Leona Riggs as Directors. The first Charter members were Miss Lillian Courneyea, Miss Lola Fluke, Miss Rachel Fox, Mrs. Francis Bennett, Miss Majorie Gothard, Mrs. Minnie Kerr, Mrs. Barbara McCaw, Miss Gladys H. MacDonald, Mrs. Mathilda Mazer, Mrs. Amy Rawson, and Mrs. Edna Wrightmeyer.

The Soroptimist Club of Belleville funded various endeavors throughout Belleville, Ontario. In 1992, Leona Hendry, Chief Librarian of the Belleville Public Library, reported that the Belleville Soroptimist Club donated $500 in 1950 to begin a record collection. In 1953, the Club sponsored a Tweed Ladies Coronation Tea and Fashion Show, held at Georgia Smith’s residence. In 1957-1958, the Belleville chapter established a $25 prize for the highest standing in the Grade XI Commercial Course for students of the Belleville Collegiate Institute and Vocational School. In May 1960, the 28th conference of the Eastern Canada Region of the Soroptimist Federation of the Americas was held in Belleville, with President Georgia Smith serving as chairman of the banquet. The Soroptimist Club of Belleville presumably concluded by the 1970s.

The Soroptimist International Association (SIA) was a volunteer service organization founded in the 1920s to serve as a classified service club for professional and executive business women of American, British and European Federations. In a SIA leaflet from the 1940s, the word Soroptimist derives from the word soror (sister) and optima (best), meaning “The Best for Women.” The leaflet states that the ideals of the Soroptimist Clubs are “the sincerity of friendship, the joy of achievement, the dignity of service, the integrity of professions, [and] the love of country.”

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