Soroptomists bond with Helman girls

Soroptomists bond with Helman girls

Soroptimist Strong Girls Strong Women has just completed a five-year association with the girls of Helman School. The program consists of three parts: books for girls in kindergarten and first grades, lunch buddy mentoring for second- through fifth-graders, and an after-school program for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Since school year 2008, every girl in K-1 at Helman School had the opportunity to choose one book from a selection that features positive female images. We wish to acknowledge Highlights for Children subsidiary Boyds Mills Press for their significant donation to this project. Twenty-two girls also received small bookcases thanks to John Weston and the woodworking class at Ashland High School.

The lunch buddy program pairs girls grades 2-5 with women from Soroptimist, AAUW and the community for a lunch meeting once a month during the school year. In 2012-13, 50 girls were enrolled. During the five years, 106 girls and 72 women have been involved with many pairs developing great relationships from being together three, four or five years. We wish to acknowledge the volunteer support of the women from the community.

The one-day-per-week after-school program for grades 4-5 focuses on math and science, careers and the environment. During the career session, the girls have site visits to see and hear from women in business, education and professions.

This school year the visits included Yala Designs, the SOU Science Department, Animal Medical Hospital and Land of Paws, the Ashland Police Department, Ashland Greenhouses, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Returned Peace Corps volunteers. We thank the wonderful women of these organizations for sharing their expertise with these girls.

Soroptimist International of Ashland also sponsors a community dinner for families of participating girls in lunch buddies and the after-school program. This opportunity for Helman families and volunteers from the community to meet is further enriching for the girls.

Soroptimist International of Ashland will continue the Strong Girls Strong Women program with Helman and we welcome community women who would like to participate. For further information see

Polly B. Arnold, committee co-chairwoman

Soroptimist Strong Girls Strong Women