News

Putting the ‘F’ back in female bonding

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

Ladies, if you like f-words, you might want to check out Soroptimist International of Greater Bremerton’s West Sound Women’s Show on March 29.

No, not that f-word, f-words plural, like fun, fashion, finance and a host of others that organizers hope to put on display at a couple of workshops at the show.

An otherwise successful show last year left some attendees wanting more, which is why this year’s event co-chair is talking up the 2008 version as new and improved.

“What (attendees last year) wanted to see is more fun,” Women’s Show Co-chair Tami Close said. “The intent, of course, is to attract women to what we call the ‘f-words.’”

To that end, the show will feature more than 80 exhibitors of women’s products, services and the like and a pair of workshops that will run throughout the day. The workshops will feature talks by local businesspeople and experts with topics like organizing finances, cooking techniques and fitness regimens.

Close herself will be hosting her own talk called “How to Look Great Naked!” which will feature general wellness tips.

The soroptimists’ aim for the day is simple, Close said: “give women a day that they can just come and connect with other women.”

But she and her group hope they can do a little more than that. Proceeds from the event will go toward women’s scholarships that the group offers each year and toward the construction of a Salvation Army “hygiene center” in Bremerton.

The latter cause is one that another soroptimist and Salvation Army employee said is in great need among low income and homeless women and children in the Bremerton area.

“The center is important because it reaches a need of women and children that, by the grace of God, we aren’t all in that position,” Salvation Army Corps Officer Marcia Baker said.

Bremerton’s Salvation Army branch is currently serving about 30,000 meals — lunches and breakfasts — each year, though it’s tough to nail down exactly how many people would take advantage of the center.

The hygiene aspect of the center would provide people with washers and dryers for laundry and bathroom facilities. A lot of low income and homeless women struggle at job interviews because they’re unable to access facilities to clean themselves up beforehand.

The local YMCA gives out vouchers for use of bathroom facilities, Baker said, but that can sometimes create awkward tension with other, better-off members of the club.

“There is not a facility like this in Kitsap County,” Baker said. “The greatest thing I think the center is going to do is to give people dignity.”

The Salvation Army also plans on offering mailbox services and a food bank at the center and perhaps even a traditional bank at some point.

Baker will be on hand at Saturday’s event to showcase plans for the center for anyone interested.

As far as attendance to the show is concerned, it’s come one, come all.

Guys usually don’t show up in huge numbers, but they’re welcome if they want to, Close said.

“The more the merrier.”

Membership in Soroptimist International isn’t required, but the group is plenty willing to sign up new recruits. Last year’s Women’s Show drew about 600 people and a few decided they liked the day enough to join the club.

Most of all, Close stressed that the show and the club are local and any money earned will stay in the area.

“You don’t have to go to Seattle,” she said. “You can stay here and have a great day.”

There are a few spots remaining for vendors who wish to participate in the show. For more information, call Close at (360) 710-4698 or e-mail tami@tamiclose.com.

West Sound Women’s Show

What: All-day expo for women of all ages (men welcome, too)

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 29

Where: President’s Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds

Cost: $5 entry fee

Contact: Tami Close, (360) 710-4698 or tami@tamiclose.com.

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