Soroptimist becomes a centenarian

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 28, 2015

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ROSEVILLE — Eight years ago, Lee Meyer created the ideal fundraiser that would benefit women and girls of all ages.


Meyer, a longtime member of the Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe, came up with the organization’s Dine Around Town raffle to raise money for scholarship awards.


Soroptimist members collect gift certificates from local restaurants, bundle them in assorted groups and then sell the raffle tickets to friends and family. The winners receive an assortment of gift certificates to restaurants in which to “dine around town.”


The annual fundraiser generally raises between $5,000 and $7,000 per year and, in turn, provides scholarship money for women. Tickets cost $5 each or five for $20.


This year’s fundraiser tied in with a very special milestone for Meyer — her 100th birthday on Oct. 19. Two nights later, on Oct. 21, several Soroptimist members gathered for a birthday party in the centenarian’s honor. At the party, Meyer picked the winning tickets for this year’s fundraiser.


Meyer’s daughter, Adele Meyer, attended the festivities. Meyer also has one granddaughter, Charlotte Satmary.


“I think family genes is certainly part of it. She has always lived a pretty healthy life. She was a registered dietician,” Adele Meyer said.


Lee Meyer was married to Gilbert Meyer for almost 50 years. He passed away six weeks before their golden wedding anniversary.


Gilbert Meyer was a veterinarian who in his spare time liked to hunt, golf and fish. He had a musical side too, and he played clarinet and oboe in the Grosse Pointe Symphony and the Mount Clemens Symphony.


“As a young girl I was very, very fortunate. My parents adored each other. They were best friends,” Adele Meyer said. “My mother is a very sweet, easygoing person and very independent.”


That’s why the Soroptimist members came together for Meyer’s 100th birthday. At the age of 40, she opened her own business — This and That for Pets on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods. She stayed with the business for 50 years and sold it 10 years ago at the age of 90.


“Everybody loves Lee. She has been a leader in the club,” said Amanda Be, a Roseville resident who will become president in July. “She was the person (behind) our most successful fundraiser. She’s a special member that truly cared about Soroptimist and gave a lot of herself to the organization.”


Along with celebrating Meyer’s big day, the club members have another reason to celebrate: Next month, the Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe will turn 60.


Soroptimist is an international volunteer organization of women who work to improve the lives of women and girls through various programs locally and worldwide.


The Grosse Pointe Soroptimist projects include human trafficking awareness and fundraising to support scholarship awards. The Live Your Dream award, for example, helps women with educational expenses. Eligible applicants must be women who provide the primary financial support for their families and who are enrolled in a vocational training program or an undergraduate degree program.


Through their efforts, the club members also are sending four girls in Demano, Ghana, to a private school. Former Harper Woods resident Mary Ellen Burke, who now resides in Grosse Pointe Woods, said that one student is a sophomore and three are freshmen. Burke said the Soroptimists also volunteer at Positive Images, a Detroit-based treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse. She added that the Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe has held a human trafficking awareness event for the last eight years.


“I like the fact I can make an impact locally but throughout the world,” Be, 33, said.


Be said one such project includes helping women in Nepal who are the heads of their households and rebuilding from last spring’s earthquake. Be said members can pick community service projects in which they would like to be involved.


“After the earthquake, women were left with nothing,” Be said. “We help provide relief efforts.”


“I just like all the friendships and knowing we’re helping all women,” current President and Grosse Pointe Woods resident Roseanne Horne said. Horne, a member since 2010, said the nonprofit organization also has individuals who “are asked to participate in decision-making” at the United Nations.


There are nine clubs in Michigan, and Grosse Pointe is part of the organization’s Midwestern Region and also the Soroptimist International of the Americas. And while they are volunteering to help others, the Soroptimists also bond with each other.


“What’s so nice about the organization is we have someone in every decade from their 20s, 30s, 40s to now 100,” 80-year-old Eastpointe resident Myra Golden said. “We do an awful lot of good work.”


The Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, 788 Lake Shore Road. New members are always welcome.


For more information, visit www.grossepointesoroptimist.org. The group also has a Facebook page under “Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe.”

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