Soroptimist was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, at a time when women were not permitted to join service organizations. Our name, loosely translated from the Latin, means "Best for Women."
Soroptimist has grown to become a worldwide volunteer service organization that works to improve the lives of women and girls through access to education in local communities and throughout the world. Soroptimist International has clubs in 125 countries and territories.
On April 10, 1948, Soroptimist International of Riverside was chartered in the Music Room of the Mission Inn by Soroptimist International of Pomona. The charter roster included 18 businesswomen from the Riverside area.
The club’s first major project was to launch the Braille Institute Auxiliary for Riverside in 1949. Through the years members have initiated many projects such as purchasing a van for the YWCA Born Free Program, providing a library for the Janet Goeske Center, purchasing playground equipment for Juvenile Hall, creating the Soroptimist Rose Garden at the Riverside County Court House and founding the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center.
In 1976, SI Riverside completed the History Walk at Raincross Square in downtown Riverside, a project the club undertook as part of the city’s Bicentennial celebration. With the renovation at Raincross Square causing removal of the History Walk, SI Riverside is currently working with the City of Riverside to find a new location for the History Walk stone medallions.
We also annually provide backpacks for needy children at Arlington Temporary Assistance, provide a washer and dryer for a single mother in a Habitat for Humanity home and support the young women who reside in an Inspire Life Skills Training group home in Riverside.
We currently have an exchange program with our friendship link club, SI Erlangen, Germany, for a young woman from Riverside to visit Erlangen and for a young woman from Erlangen to visit Riverside.
In 2008 we began our “Live Your Dream: Dream It, Be It Conference” which is designed to introduce 7th and 8th grade girls to various career opportunities. In addition, we provide scholarships and awards to outstanding local women and high school girls including our Live Your Dream Education & Training Award, Student Volunteer Award, Gold Key Award and Dream It Be It Scholarship.
We support all these service projects through our annual fundraiser, the "Valentine Dessert Auction & Battle of the Bakers" which we began in 1997.
SI Riverside is a non-profit 501(c)(3) professional business women’s organization. As part of Soroptimist International, the club strives to improve the lives of women and girls in our local communities and all over the world.