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Zonta Club being formed in Cape Coral

By Staff | Jul 12, 2016

An international organization focused on empowering women and girls globally and locally has its sights set on Cape Coral as the location for a new chapter.

Seeking to form a Cape-based group, the Zonta Club will host an informational gathering Thursday, July 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Gulf Coast Village. It will begin with a social reception, followed by the main presentation from 6-7 p.m., according to Nancy Dreher, membership chair with Zonta’s District 11.

“We’re hoping to put together a group of like-minded women who see a need in their community,” she said. “It’s to inspire the women of Cape Coral to say, ‘What are the needs in my community?'”

Founded in 1919 in Buffalo, New York, the Zonta Club is a global organization of professionals empowering women and advancing the status of women through service and advocacy. It envisions a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights, according to the group’s website.

Every woman is able to achieve her full potential, and women have access to all resources and are represented in decision-making positions on an equal basis with men, the website continues.

“That is still our mission today,” Dreher said.

She noted that men are welcome to join.

“It’s also open to men,” Dreher said. “We’re not just a women’s club.”

Currently, there are Zonta Clubs in Sanibel-Captiva, Fort Myers, Naples, Bonita Springs, Sarasota, Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. The Southwest Florida area consists of more than 300 members.

“We each have our own groups within the community that we work with,” she said.

Some of the partner agencies that the clubs work alongside include Abuse Counseling & Treatment, Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, Dress for Success and the PACE Center for Girls.

“We do a lot of things locally,” Dreher said.

On the global level, a percentage of the funds earned by the clubs goes toward Zonta International, which, in turn, uses the monies to fund women’s and girls’ projects through the United Nations.

According to Dreher, there has been a growing interest to form a Cape club.

“Cape Coral being the largest city in Southwest Florida, there are so many parts of these agencies within the Cape that we would be helping these agencies, and women and girls in the Cape,” she said.

The formation of a Cape club was attempted several years ago, but it never took off.

“We saw a void in our area,” Dreher said.

The informational gathering on July 28 is the second of its kind. The first meet-and-greet was held last month and approximately 40 people attended, plus another dozen club members from nearby groups.

“We’ll talk about our international component and our local component,” she said.

Area club members recently returned from the international conference, hosted in France.

“We have new projects, so we’ll talk about our new projects,” Dreher said.

Members will also be available to answer questions.

The Zonta Club of Cape Coral will have two years to get chartered.

“We’re going to be there step-by-step to help get their meetings organized and their club organized,” Dreher said, adding that the area club members will also serve as mentors for the new members.

The club will have to identify the needs in the Cape community and how to get involved.

There will also be annual membership dues required, which varies by club.

Dreher said she learned of the Zonta Club when she moved to Florida nearly 10 years ago.

“I found all of these new friends and all of these new resources,” she said, adding that it goes beyond the service. “It is about the friendships and the sisterhood of the organization that is so powerful.”

“I just hope it inspires women to say, ‘I want to make a difference in my community,'” Dreher added.

Reservations are requested for the informational gathering, but they are not required.

To make a reservation or for more information, contact Dreher at nomar40@cox.net or 504-460-3993.

Also visit online at: www.zonta.org or www.zontasancap.com.

Gulf Coast Village is at 1333 Santa Barbara Blvd., in Cape Coral.