Reaching Out to Estero to Help Women Around the World

Zonta Club of Bonita Springs has long included members from Estero, and monthly meetings take place near the Bonita-Estero border at the Bonita Community Health Center. So a name change to include Estero has been overdue.

“Why not be inclusive?” That was the thought which led Club President Sara McCallum to seek an official name change from Zonta International.

The request was approved in March, and the renamed Zonta Club of Bonita Springs-Estero will celebrate with an open house at FineMark National Bank & Trust May 17. The club is inviting prospective members to learn more about this women’s service organization which has had a local chapter since 1994. Present membership is at 19.

“It’s a wonderful group of women who are very dedicated and committed,” says McCallum. But this small group would like to add to their ranks of business and professional women who seek to improve the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women everywhere.

“With more individuals in the club, you can just do more,” McCallum says. “You can move forward with one person, but you can move further if you get others involved.”

Last year, the organization collected gently used bras for Free the Girls, an organization which helps victims of sex trafficking around the globe by giving them the opportunity to build a business selling second-hand clothing. Bras are sought-after items and command top dollar in many third-world marketplaces.

This year, Zonta is shifting the focus to collecting T-shirts for Rethreaded, another organization helping victims of sex trafficking in the United States and abroad. The T-shirts will be repurposed into other items like the fashionable “Grace Scarf,” hand crafted by trafficking survivors.

Other local charities supported by the local Zonta chapter include Interfaith Caregivers of South Lee, Meals of Hope, Habitat for Humanity, ACT-Shelter for Abused Women & Children, Salvation Army, Bonita Assistance Office, Partners for Breast Cancer and Our Mothers Home. Additionally, the club provides scholarships to local high school graduates, as well as to women going to back to school to improve their employment opportunities.

“Making a difference for other women less fortunate is needed,” says Club President-Elect Nancy Dalaskey, who will take over for McCallum in July.

The largest fundraising event of the year is the Woman of the Year Luncheon each spring. Annually, Zonta recognizes a local woman for her philanthropic and service contributions to the community. Last month, Zonta named Brenda Tate the 2017 Woman of the Year during the luncheon at Bonita Bay Club. Tate is president and founder of the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida and co-chair of the Florida Women’s Funding Alliance, an affinity group of Florida Philanthropic Network. She also is a member of Women Moving Millions and Prosperity Together, a group of U.S. women’s foundations pledging to invest a collective $100 million in women and girls over the next five years.

Locally, Tate has served as a student advocate and fundraiser for the Take Stock in  Children scholarship program, among other philanthropic initiatives.

“As the founder and director of the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, Brenda works every day to address modern day slavery and boost the economic clout of Southwest Florida women,” says Dayhanna Acosta, who handles outreach for the foundation. “Brenda works to invest in programs that educate, boost security and entrepreneurship and advocate from a woman’s perspective. I can’t think of a better person to embody the Zonta Club’s mission than Brenda.”

McCallum hopes the luncheon and the open house will inspire more local women to get involved in Zonta. Those who join will find friendships and gain the opportunity to be part of an international effort helping women around the world, she adds.

OPEN HOUSE

Zonta Club of Bonita Springs-Estero 

Prospective members are invited to celebrate the name change and learn what Zonta Club is all about. Light refreshments will be provided.

Date: Wed., May 17

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Place: FineMark National Bank & Trust, 26800 Coconut Road

Reservations: Karen Berens, karenaberens@aol.com

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