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West Maui Soroptimists encourage families ‘to get out and get healthy’

By Staff | Jul 18, 2013

WEST MAUI – Soroptimist International of West Maui (SIWM) is an organization of bountiful opportunity.

The opportunity to serve, to give and to receive, to lead, to invest in the future, to stop domestic violence, to seek a better education and to empower women and girls to live their dreams (liveyourdream.org).

The international nonprofit was founded in 1921 in Oakland, California. From this first chapter, the women’s advocacy group has flourished, and now there are over 3,000 clubs worldwide.

Its global vision is to promote a world where women, young and old together, can achieve their individual and collective potential, realize aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide.

The West Side chapter was chartered 37 years ago in 1975.

They meet twice monthly, on the first and third Tuesday, at the Royal Lahaina Resort’s Ocean Terrace Restaurant.

Fifteen members strong, Lisa Nelson, immediate past president, is proud of her team of Soroptimists.

“We are small but mighty,” she boasted; and, last weekend, the West Maui corps of professionals was able to demonstrate its force with the establishment of a first annual signature event: SIWM Interactive Health & Fitness Expo.

Held in the hills above Napili, the venue on the grounds of Maui Preparatory Academy was next-to-perfect. With its canopy of trees and carpeting of grass, easy walking paths and sidewalks, vendors and attendees were able to enjoy the event in cool comfort.

“We wanted this to be a family affair – not just for adults and not just for children, but for the family,” longtime Soroptimist (1981) and club Secretary Ruth McKay commented.

Nelson added a few other goals to the event benefits: “To raise awareness of the need to keep our children healthy and to get the families and the community to get more involved in their wellness.”

Club Treasurer Shelley Hee echoed her fellow Soroptimist’s sentiments about the purpose of the expo: “To do a community event and to get out and get healthy.”

Glenn Kamaka opened the day with a blessing, leading the opening walk in the gentle morning sunshine around the campus.

Vendors were aplenty offering interactive demonstrations on the main stage, like Zumba, yoga and CrossFit.

“The big event of the day,” Hee said, “was the CrossFit Challenge.”

The keiki were entertained as well, with face painting, a performance by the Maui Cheer Babes led by Coach Sue, bouncing castle and wet slides.

“We teach the kids how to work out without hurting themselves,” club leader Kathy Perry advised.

The health, fitness and awareness theme was supported by the participants, including a farmers’ market, lunches offered by Whole Foods and blood sugar and blood pressure tests at a table staffed by students in the University of Hawaii Maui College Nursing Program.

Author Danielle Bergan of Napili offered for sale autographed copies of her memoir: “It’s Always Okay To Be Me, a journey to recovering lost hope.”

“I feel that it goes well with the health fair, because it was about healing myself,” Bergan explained.

“I think it (the expo) was really a good start. I think it was really fun. They got a good jump on it, and I’d like to see it become an annual event,” Bergan remarked

Sponsors of the 2013 inaugural event were the County of Maui, KCK Entertainment, Kapalua Spa, Napili Kai Beach Resort, Maui Preparatory Academy, Lahaina CrossFit, The Plantation House Restaurant, Hawaiian Style Event Rentals and Fidelity National Title & Escrow of Hawaii Inc.

Plans are in the making for 2014.

“This year, we wanted to start small; we wanted to limit the number of venders, because we wanted to make sure it was something we could handle. So we did the one-mile fitness event, the children fitness events… next year we are going to add the 5K, which will be the big signature draw,” Nelson explained.

Other near-term goals of the grassroots chapter are boosting the club’s membership and continuing with long-standing programs in support of their core values: volunteer action, leadership development, fellowship and diversity, and international goodwill and understanding.

The local Soroptimists have contributed over $25,000 to Women Helping Women.

For 34 years, it is has been the organizational force behind the Lahaina Keiki Halloween Parade.

It offers annual monetary scholarships and awards to women, teens and graduating seniors. The Lahainaluna High School Foundation has been the beneficiary of over $20,000.

President Perry encourages women of West Maui to share in the responsibility of raising awareness. “The reward you get from volunteering is so much more,” she said.

For a membership application or more information, e-mail siwestmaui@soroptimist.net.