Soroptimist is an international volunteer organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. Soroptimist was founded in 1921 and now has over 100,000 members in 120 countries.
Soroptimist International of Howard County was founded in 1954. Jeanne Simons, the late founder of the Linwood Center, a school and adult services provider for people with autism, joined the club the following year. Throughout her long association with Soroptimist, Simons was a willing volunteer and strong supporter of the club. She attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the club in 2004, along with Bill Moss, current director of Linwood, Karen Spence, deputy director of Linwood and Hélène van Oijen, Simons’ niece. Simons felt a strong connection to the Soroptimist organization and to the Howard County club until the end of her life in 2005.
Likewise, SI of Howard County has had a long connection with Linwood through the years. The club sponsored a female student for many of her years of residential life at Linwood and has been involved in Linwood’s golf tournaments and other fundraisers. SI has provided funds for the purchase of educational software, and three of the members serve on Linwood’s Community Standing Committee for the adult services program. In recent yeas, SI has sponsored one of Linwood’s homes where three young women live.
SI of Howard County was very fortunate to count Jeanne Simons as a member and has honored Simons’ legacy through its involvement in the Howard County community. On May 19, 2006, the Soroptimist International of Howard County presented a plaque to the Linwood Center in honor of Jeanne Simons’ service to the Soroptimists and the community.