Her presence is palpable.

Former Malvar councilor Carla Reyes, fondly known as “Ate Carla” by her fellow townspeople and beneficiaries of her multifaceted public service initiatives, remains an active force.

In fact, she has recently embarked on a more expansive and elevated level of public service.

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“I am now operating on a grander scale, with the ability to assist more individuals. The beauty of this lies in its structured guidelines, with a primary emphasis on scholarships,” Ms. Carla Reyes explained in an exclusive interview during the week-long commemoration of the Soroptimist International-Malvar chapter, an organization she established.

“Beyond scholarships, we will continue to engage in a variety of projects, reminiscent of those conducted under the Ate Carla program, such as medical missions, financial support for cancer patients, dialysis assistance, and more.”

The “Ate Carla Foundation” has actively implemented pro-community initiatives, particularly during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout her tenure as Malvar’s Councilor from 2019 to 2022. This dedication led the media to dub her “Malvar’s Big Sister.”

While she retains this role, she is now operating at a heightened level of public service.

“Being part of SI [Soroptimist International] provides numerous advantages, including a larger collective of minds and a greater capacity for generating ideas. Most importantly, it enables us to assist a larger number of people,” Reyes emphasized.

Recently, the founder of the Soroptimist Malvar Chapter shared their success in conducting a fundraising raffle, yielding over P100,000 (Philippine pesos).

“Through the raffle for a cause, we generated a net profit of P120,000. Consequently, SI Malvar was able to award six scholarships – three for elementary students and three for college students. Additionally, we organized a feeding program in Barangay San Andres.”

This fundraising endeavor marked the initial step of SI Malvar’s commitment to serve more residents of Malvar in the months ahead.

“Our upcoming fundraising initiatives include a fun run, Zumba for a cause, and a ballroom event for a cause. A key pillar of Soroptimist International Malvar is raising public awareness,” Reyes elaborated.

“It’s essential for the people of Malvar to understand that this organization exists, as this knowledge will lead to increased scholarships and the implementation of numerous livelihood projects.”

According to the founder and president of SI Malvar, they are actively seeking to launch livelihood projects and partner with corporations like CDO in this endeavor.

“While we haven’t yet connected with CDO, it’s one of our programs, alongside collaborating with other companies engaged in corporate social responsibility within Malvar.”

CDO operates a significant food processing plant in Malvar.

Prior to the establishment of SI Malvar earlier in the year, Ate Carla highlighted CDO’s interest in providing entrepreneurship training.

“CDO expressed interest. They mentioned wanting to conduct entrepreneurship training, which, in my view, is crucial for sustainability and continuity. It’s important for people to manage and sustain their lives after participating in our livelihood projects,” Reyes remarked.

The induction of SI-Malvar (SIM) officers occurred on March 26, 2023, but it was only recently that the founder and president of SIM agreed to an interview as part of the celebration and observance of this year’s Soroptimist Week (August 24-31).

Reyes also took the opportunity to explain the essence and significance of a soroptimist organization, whether local or international.

“Soroptimist is a community of women dedicated to assisting young women and mothers who face challenges and those in need. Its primary focus is on advancing the welfare of women, with an emphasis on scholarship programs,” she conveyed.

“These scholarships encompass elementary, high school, and college students. One notable program is ‘Access to Education’ (ATE),” Reyes elaborated.

“Funding for ATE is provided by Soroptimist International-Philippines. In this program, we submit applications from students aspiring to be scholars of Soroptimist International Philippines.”

However, the efforts don’t stop there.

“We also have an initiative called ‘Adopt-A-Barangay,’ where partnerships center around specific barangays, addressing their needs, whether through livelihood projects, school uniforms, or other essentials. Scholarships are also extended to indigent communities through this initiative,” Reyes explained.

Funding for Adopt-A-Barangay is sourced from Soroptimist Malvar.

Additionally, SI offers “Live Your Dreams (LYD)” programs or projects supported by Soroptimist International-USA, to which SI-Philippines is affiliated.

Soroptimist International’s reach is global, spanning not only America but also Europe and other continents, as noted by Reyes.

“The LYD program is funded by Soroptimist International-USA, with grants amounting to $1,000. This funding is provided to selected applicants of SI-Malvar,” she clarified.

“The LYD program has specific requirements, including a letter of intent, academic performance, proof of indigence, and enrollment. It targets those who are truly in need and qualified. The selection process is facilitated by Soroptimist International-USA.”

Soroptimist Week

August 28, 1997, marked the declaration by then-president Fidel Valdez Ramos of the last week of August each year as Soroptimist Week (August 24-31).

Soroptimism stands on two pillars: the camaraderie and service activities of executive, business, and professional women united by the ideals of Soroptimism – genuine friendship, the thrill of achievement, devoted service, professional integrity, and patriotic fervor, as articulated in FVR’s proclamation letter.

Throughout its history, Soroptimist International has represented over 3,500 occupations and professions of women from diverse backgrounds in 100 countries. These women, encompassing university presidents, farmers, business owners, physicians, educators, lawyers, and more, share a commitment to service and excellence in their respective fields.

SI was introduced in the Philippines in 1966, and over the years, it has made significant contributions to economic and social development, education, environment, healthcare, human rights, women’s empowerment, and international understanding.

Malacañang’s proclamation recognizes SI as a valuable partner of the government in enhancing the quality of life, particularly in underserved areas and education.

Soroptimist International was founded in 1921 by Violet Richardson Ward. The first Soroptimist club was established in Oakland, California, USA.

Becoming a Soroptimist involves several steps:

Locate a Soroptimist Club in your vicinity.

Share your contact information to connect with the local club.

Receive an invitation to learn more from Soroptimists.

Be co-opted or invited to join.

Participate in meetings and activities.

Engage in Soroptimist training programs.

Undergo induction.

Partake in a welcome ceremony.