Suzanne Bohlman was a girl of 15 when she first encountered a Soroptimist.
For a year, she lived at the Girls Ranch in Northern Arizona. Soroptimist founded the ranch to provide a safe haven for girls who, through no fault of their own, were wards of the court.
"They would sit and talk to us and tell us that no matter what had happened, it was not our fault.
"They told us we could accomplish and overcome anything," Bohlman said.
Renee Rack, the director of the ranch and a local Soroptimist, would take the girls to have their hair done.
Those constant self-confidence boosts gave the girls fertile soil to grow and blossom in their lives.
"The Soroptimist women let us know that no mountain was too high; no challenge was too great. That's true of Soroptimist members in Payson and the women we help," Bohlman said.
As a grown woman, Bohlman joined Soroptimists in Payson in the 1980s, then she became ill and had to leave until 2003.
"My heart never left, but my body had to leave for a while," she said.
Projects the Soroptimists have taken on over the years include: painting white lines on the sides of curvaceous roads for safety, helping women get credit cards in their own names, making a physical exercise trail in Rumsey Park and orientation and leadership training for women.
Members are women from many walks of life. There is a retired truck driver. There are nurses, accountants and, social workers to name but a few.
They used to support the domestic violence shelter in Flagstaff.
"In the 1980s, Jean Oliver said we needed a battered women's shelter in Payson. We brought in the police chief and doctors to talk to members," Bohlman said.
Time Out domestic violence shelter became the club's identifying project. This year, 2008, will be the fifth year for their annual Radio-thon.
Different businesses and club members sign up for an hour to make donation phone calls.
Local radio stations KMOG and KRIM promoted the fund raiser all day in 2007.
"The radio-thon is almost like a big mixer. People from all over the community get together," Cathy Hall said.
The thousands of dollars raised, $18,000 in 2006, support different charities in town and the Women's Opportunity Award. A single mother who wishes to further her education is the recipient of the annual award.
"Volunteer service is heart warming. It provides you with feelings you cannot get from anything else," Jean Oliver said.
Soroptimist International of Zane Grey Country
Founded: Payson charter 1975.
Purpose: Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women in management and professions. Members pledge, by the sincerity of friendship, joy of achievement, dignity of service, integrity of profession and love of country, to work through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women.
Contact: (928) 978-8866 OR (928) 472-7623
How to join, dues, donate: Membership is by invitation only. Dues are as reasonable as possible. All members are required to participate in fund raising and special projects.
Meeting day, time and place: Noon, Wednesdays at Crosswinds Restaurant.
Membership Committee: Jean Oliver , Vliet Hulse, Leilani Damon
Contributions to community / major projects: Gift bags for nursing home residents, annual Radio-thon, Holiday Wine and Cheese party, See's Candy (available at Fireside Espresso and The Bookstore and More), graduating high school senior scholarships, women's scholarships, support for Time Out and Payson Community Kids.
Volunteer names: Tambra Armenta, Ede Ashmus, Suzanne Bohlman, Kay Chasse, Clarice Christensen, Candace Conte, Vicki Cridebring, Leilani Damon, Julia Fluke, Debra Gerard, Tiffany Goldman, Betty Gooder, Cathy Hall, Pat Haynie, Margaret Holmes, Vliet Hulse, Sharon Jackson, Sandy Lumsden, Audrey Maurer, Brenda Mooney, Jean Oliver, Daphne Rutz, Sandra Scott and, Connie Tipton.