President's Message

by Sabita Harrikissoon-Bissessar

Thank you for choosing me to lead our Club into its 50th year.

My plans are neither radical nor revolutionary but some are novel. All however rely on the enthusiasm and devotion to duty that characterizes the members of SI San Fernando.

Throughout my term I will strive to increase awareness of the work we do under the Soroptimist umbrella, to partner with other groups for meaningful collaboration on projects and to increase fellowship among our club members and our families.

Our Club has signature events and projects. I propose to maintain them but to freshen their appeal by small but what I believe to be important changes. For instance, our Impress for Success project.

I hope to make it a twofold experience encompassing the aspects of preparing for the workplace that we already cover but also incorporating sessions where students can interact with representatives of various professions and vocations in the workplace.

In keeping with SIGBI’s directive to forge partnerships with other NGOs, I propose formal links with organizations we help such as South AIDS Support and Trinidad and Tobago Heart Foundation to work on joint projects throughout the year to help make a difference. This will also raise our profile.

At our conference in Manchester last October, we were directed to link with local branches of the Worldwide Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS). To this end, we have already made contact with the South Girl Guides and hope to start a mentoring project with them soon. This link will also help us in the future for recruitment as these strong young women will be exposed to the work we Soroptimists do.

I also wish with the assistance of the Executive to implement new projects. For instance, I wish to expand our turtle tagging/GPS tracking project with Nature Seekers which we started a little over 4 years ago. I propose we embark on a National campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of plastic bags to wildlife. As part of this campaign we can retail reusable shopping bags with our logo prominently displayed. This would serve to raise awareness of our organization’s good work.

Another project which I hope to start is one in the area of Health. We Soroptimists need to do our part to raise awareness of Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancers. Education is still the greatest asset a woman can have in the early diagnosis and management of these diseases. Information needs to be disseminated at Health Fairs, Seminars, through the print media as well as electronically. We hope to partner with the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association to help us with this important project.

A large part of our future work would be dedicated to the rebuilding of our Soroptimist Residence for the Elderly, Shangri-La. I will be calling upon members to volunteer for the various sub-committees to see our long term project to fruition.

Fundraising this year will be critical to fund our projects as well as channelling funds to Shangri-La’s rebuilding. Hazel and Cheryl have been working feverishly on our upcoming Lydian’s Concert Fundraiser. In addition to our Golf and Brunch we will have to look at other fundraisers to help defray building costs.

I am hoping you, the members of SI San Fernando, can come up with creative ideas for raising funds. A movie premiere, a Parang event, even a good old fashioned Bar Be Que; we can’t afford to rule out any potential source of funds.

This year I’ll be challenging Cheryl to put together an I.T. team to update our website in a timely manner and even to publish a quarterly e-newsletter which can be circulated to all our Soroptimist members nationally and internationally, and other NGOs to let them know of our activities.

At our Conference in Manchester, SIGBI complained of falling membership and suggested novel ways of recruiting and keeping new members. I hope to have at least 5 new members over my term by targeting specific individuals who can add value to our organization and who can carry Soroptimism forward.

For these purposes I will be relying on our senior members who will act as mentors to supervise the activities of new members by taking them under their wing and motivating them to be part of committees.

Now that I have said all of this it all seems so much, but recently at our New Members’ Morning when we heard all the projects we were involved in, we were all amazed to know that we do these projects and do them very successfully. So I know with you behind me we can achieve all we set out to do.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to be all about work. Remember when I started I mentioned I would like to have more fellowship over my term. We have recently had some new members join and I hope we all get to know each other and our respective families better. At our events and functions I hope to get our families involved, since Soroptimism is only one aspect of our lives.

I also hope to introduce, guest speakers at our Business meetings every 3 or 4 months or so who may stimulate our minds and possibly spark our interest on topics with contemporary appeal.

Ladies, we have a lot ahead, LET’S GET TO WORK!


Make Education a Family Matter

Education of Children is the responsibility of all family members, parents and siblings. Just as babies have routines, young children and teenagers need routines and guidelines for success in their educational pursuits. SI SAN Fernando developed this simple guide that is used by many schools in the southern region as part of the schools registration process for secondary level.

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Good Relationships/Bad Relationships

Which one are you in? Good Relationships are blessings, and Bad Relationships are destructive. Many signs of bad relationships go un-noticed or are accepted due to peer pressure. THINK is a bookmark for tweens, teenagers, and young adults to help them identify and practice good relationship habits and also to be aware of the signs of a bad relationship and seeks help. SI SAN Fernando is committed to stemming the signs of domestic violence.

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