Raising funds to empower South Whidbey women toward reaching their goals, Soroptimists International of South Whidbey Island will host its second annual Whidbey Women & Art Benefit Show & Sale Sept. 3-4 at Dancing Fish Vineyard in Freeland.

The show is a win-win for the artists, the Soroptimist Club and the winery: artists sell and show their work, the club charges a booth rental fee, which goes towards its scholarship funds; and Dancing Fish wines and fare can be sampled. 

“Dancing Fish is hosting us at no cost,” said Elin Waldal, SISWI club president. “Its new owners will carry on the legacy of supporting us for this year.” Dancing Fish Vineyard owners Brad and Nancy Thompson, who started the popular venue in 2012, sold it last June to Erin and Ross Egge.

The public is invited to attend the free event both days from 11 am to 5 pm. Art representing 25 women artists—whose crafts include jewelry, pottery, candles, paintings, quilts, hats, fiber art, books, poetry, and more, will be featured.

SISWI was chartered in 1989 and is one of three clubs on Whidbey Island. Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Their signature projects are:

  • Live Your Dream, which helps fund single moms and women who wish to start a new career or return to school to earn a degree. Following award of the 2022 scholarship, Breanna Harttlet, a single mom of two, as well as caregiver for her mother, is pursuing certification as a landscape designer and owner of her own business. Breanna is  featured in this video, created by Chris Douthitt. After winning the award, Breanna was eligible for the Northwestern Regional award, and out of 130 entries, was selected to win additional funding toward her goal. In the video Breanna notes her appreciation for being seen as someone worth investing in and encourages other women to apply for soroptimist scholarships.
  • Women’s Opportunity Award is unique to SISWI and was launched in 2021. The award is designed for women who have completed their undergraduate degree and have been enrolled in or accepted to a higher education program.  Diane Durham, a mother of three, who lives in Langley, won the club’s first award. The funds will go toward paying tuition for a Masters degree in Library Science and Information.
  • Cassidy Apprenticeship Award is also unique to SISWI, and was piloted in Fall, 2021. It was created for young women who have not completed traditional high school and provides funds toward completing high school, and attending trade school and/or apprenticeship training programs. Cassidy is the first recipient of the scholarship. Cassidy is enrolled in a high school completion course, and is training to become a manicurist while apprenticing at Island Girl Nails in Clinton. 
  • Dream It Be It Career Support for Girls is a mentoring program for girls, which provides tools for breaking out of the cycles of poverty, abuse and violence in order to achieve goals.

Scholarship fundraisers include two annual shredding events, Whidbey Women and Art, plus an annual holiday amaryllis sale.

The club meets on the third Wednesday of the month and offers members the option to use Zoom if they cannot attend in person. For more information, email them at: hello@soroptimistsouthwhidbey.org. Their phone number is 360-331-4127.

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