Volunteers have an enormous impact on all communities worldwide. Without our faithful volunteers many organizations would not be able to give back to the community. Volunteers benefit from giving back as well because it provides a sense of accomplishment. Marcy Hoehnmann, a realtor in the community of Alpine in San Diego County, is the lead volunteer for the Soroptimist International organization. For over five years, Soroptimists have volunteered at Phoenix House Academy in Descanso making a positive impact on the lives of our female clients. Ms. Hoehnmann works closely with Phoenix House long-time staff member, Antonet O’Toole who conducted this interview.
Antonet O’Toole: Let us begin by asking who are the Soroptimists?
Marcy Hoehnmann: Founded in 1921, we are an international volunteer organization for women in management and professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. Currently there are almost 95,000 Soroptimist members represented in more than 3,000 clubs in about 125 countries and territories throughout the world. We all volunteer time and financial support to community-based and international projects that benefit other women and girls.
AO: What is the Soroptimist vision?
MH: Our mission is to contribute as much philanthropy as possible and become the volunteer service organization of preference. We share our time, talent, and financial resources to enrich our communities by:
- Improving the lives of women and girls
- Helping women achieve economic and political equality
- Serving as a global voice for women
- Providing outstanding leadership development opportunities for women
- Enhancing world peace and understanding.
AO: What is the Soroptimist’s project at Phoenix House Academy in Descanso?
MH: Soroptimist International (SI) of Alpine decided to join Phoenix House Descanso, so that we may further help teenage girls ages 12 through 17. We feel that with our assistance and funds, we are able to provide the girls with more attention in hopes of making a positive impact during their stay and overall lives. Our goal is to make each young girl’s life better, so that they will become healthier, and more successful women. We hope that our interaction during their treatment program will have a lasting effect on each of them, and hopefully one day they may become Soroptimists themselves. SI Alpine believes that investing our time, effort, and funds in teenage girls during this important time of their lives will produce the kind of women we can be proud of. We hope that our efforts will make a difference in each girl’s life and benefit their future.
AO: What methods do you use to address the needs of all the teenage girls?
MH: We meet with the teenage girls and spend time with them to build a special friendship that they can rely on. This is done by teaching the teens to be creative and proud of their accomplishments through their artwork. The interaction with the teens on a regularly scheduled basis over the past 6 years has been successful in making the girls more sure of themselves and proud of their accomplishments.
The girls get to interact with each other in an informal setting and work toward meeting their project goals set in the classes. Each class has a new project that will fill a need of the student. For example, lets say Mother’s Day is approaching; this interaction and instruction allows the girls to make and create their own hand crafted gift to give to their mother or an important female in their lives.
The teenage girls build many important relationships during their rehabilitation with counselors, teachers, and other adolescent girls. The arts and crafts class, taught by a Soroptimist volunteer, helps strengthen those important relationships. The girls get the opportunity to show their creativity. During this process the girls are able to make something they are proud of and share it with a member whom they have built a strong bond with.
The classes are structured to give ample time for the teens to relax, enjoy themselves, and learn new techniques and mediums. The classes provide a space where they can get creative and have fun, but also learn how to better cope with stress.
MH: The arts and crafts classes provided by our SI Alpine volunteers have had positive results amongst the teens. By teaching the girls different skills through art and watching their proud faces, our volunteer efforts have successfully been able to make positive changes. We all hope that the efforts of the SI Alpine women have helped influence teens for the better at Phoenix House Descanso. We hope that they are proud of themselves and can successfully accomplish their goals throughout their treatment and beyond. It is in our best interest that these teens grow into strong independent women, and hopefully, one day volunteer and improve the lives of other young girls.
For more information about our substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient services for teens with co-occurring disorders at the Phoenix House Academy in San Diego, please contact our Call Center at 1 888 671 9392. We are here to help you find the information and services you need!