Capitola Soroptimist's Bras for a Cause draws supportive crowd
By Jessica A. York, Santa Cruz Sentinel/MCT
August 19, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
Santa Cruz Sentinel/MCT--Sequins, cans of beer, soccer balls and a curvaceous Mount Rushmore were unified together as art on oversized bras displayed at the ninth annual Bras for a Cause at the Seascape Golf Club near Santa Cruz, California on Sunday.
The event serves as an annual Soroptimist International of Capitola-By-The-Sea fundraiser for local women and girls.
More than 30 bras featuring crafty and witty designs were auctioned off along with other donated prizes during the event. Creations ranged from a Candyland-inspired bra to a piece featuring twin flowering artichokes.
"We're playing dress up today because it's fun," said Soroptimist member Brooklyn Taylor, of Santa Cruz, as she modeled over her dress a red bra with black and white sequins and two cans of Coors Light on top.
"The message from this is cans against breast cancer. It's all about getting women and girls out and becoming aware of the things women face, especially with the bras and breast cancer," she said.
Soroptimist is a Latin phrase meaning "best for women" and brings members across the globe to support women and young girls through social and economic empowerment.
Yuliana Valdez, a single mom with a learning disability, used a local Soroptimist scholarship to go back to school at UC Santa Cruz for a master's degree in social work. She spoke during the fundraiser of how much it meant that the organization would help out a stranger like her, providing not just money but needed validation and support.
Capitola resident Loretta Ferris' disco ball-style bra took second place in this year's bra design contest. She tapped son, Rick Scheidt of Campbell, for ideas on her first Bras for a Cause entry, but ended up using her own idea, Scheidt said.
"We're here to support her and her bra. She dedicated it to a cousin who has breast cancer," Rick Scheidt said. "Once she showed us what she created over Skype, we said we're coming for sure. She's very creative, a special lady."
Two beneficiary programs of Sunday's event included Gemma, a Santa Cruz-based program that provides transitional services to incarcerated women, and WomenCARE, an organization that supports women suffering from cancer.
Gemma program director Cynthia Chase said Soroptimist has been supportive of Gemma for years, and helps provide connections between two groups of women whose lives might not normally intersect.
"The original design of the relationship was to pair (Gemma) members with (Soroptimist) mentors. They've provided huge support and huge benefits," Chase said. "I think it's still a kind of mentorship that they choose to continue to support us."
Capitola Soroptimist President Kristin Nystrom Rohan said she was pleased with this year's turnout of more than 60 people, and happy to mix both the lighthearted fun of decorated bras with the seriousness of what the organization does to improve the lives of women and girls.
"It's about bringing business and pleasure and volunteering together," Rohan said of the Soroptimist group.