Zonta Int’l: Supporting Women

  • By:  Theresa Culpeper
Lisa Fraser and her daughter, Ansley Fraser, help clean during a Samaritan House makeover.  (Courtesy photo) Lisa Fraser and her daughter, Ansley Fraser, help clean during a Samaritan House makeover. (Courtesy photo)

 

Scrubbing away grime on her hands and knees, Sonya Phillips delights in knowing that her hours of hard work will warm the hearts of one grateful family. Every May, she and the rest of The Zonta Club of Hampton Roads join forces to pull off one of their largest charity events—Samaritan House makeovers.

If you see Sonya getting her hands dirty with the rest of the crew, you might not realize that she is president of the Hampton Roads chapter of Zonta International.

“Charity truly begins at home,” Sonya said. “That is why I hold the Samaritan House so close to my heart. We transition someone’s house into a home, and it feels so good to support women in the Hampton Roads area.”

The Zonta Club of Hampton Roads was chartered on Feb. 1, 1985. It is the local chapter of Zonta International, a global not-for-profit organization of professionals collaborating to advance the status of women worldwide.

The Samaritan House makeovers are just one of many events that the local Zonta Club coordinates each year. Through the support of volunteers and monetary donations, the club supports other organizations like Salvation Army Hope Village, ACCESS AIDS Care, and Brides Against Breast Cancer. Members also stay busy with several ongoing fundraising projects, such as selling floral cards through a partnership with Norfolk Florist and name badges with the Zonta logo. Of the funds raised, about one-third assists with international projects and the rest benefits women in Hampton Roads.

“We are always trying different things,” Sonya said. “It is important to help out in a lot of different ways, so we like to keep our options open.”

In addition to supporting local charities, members of The Zonta Club of Hampton Roads uphold international objectives. Zonta International focuses on two major areas: direct service projects and advocacy to improve the economic, educational, political, and professional status of women. Related initiatives include striving for national peace and goodwill through fellowship and promoting justice and respect for human rights.

Founded in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1919, Zonta International now boasts approximately 33,000 members, with 1,200 clubs located in 66 countries. The United Nations recognizes Zonta as an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization).

“Everything we do at the local level is focused on Zonta’s international mission,” said Lisa Fraser, former District 3 Zonta International Governor. “That mission is all about focusing on women.”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Patricia Latona, a member of Zonta International’s United Nations committee, will travel to Hampton Roads to talk about the organization’s initiatives and issues that commonly affect women. Members are excited to feature Patricia as the keynote speaker at their monthly dinner meeting at the Norfolk Chop House on March 13. She will speak about The Zonta Club of Hampton Road’s role with the United Nations and how they provide funding for specific projects.

“For this meeting, we expect a particularly large turnout in recognition of Women’s History Month,” Sonya said. “I was invited to a dinner for my first Zonta experience, and I immediately felt like I was at home. Everyone was so warm and inviting. I love passing along that feeling to other young women.”

The chapter invites women and men of Hampton Roads who yearn to make a difference in their communities and in the world to consider membership with Zonta. Club meetings are held at the Norfolk Chop House on the second Wednesday of every month, except for July and August. The public is always encouraged to attend.

“A lot of new members are coming in, which is great,” Fraser said. “Organizations like this can’t survive without younger women making a difference.”

The March meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 6 p.m. at the Norfolk Chop House, 2314 Colonial Ave. in Norfolk. There’s no charge for the meeting, and attendees order off the menu. For additional information, call 757-613-7951 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For membership information, please contact Sonya Phillips at 757-343-7018 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Theresa Culpepper is currently pursuing a graduate degree in New Media Journalism. She works at an advertising agency in Virginia Beach, where she lives with her fiancé and two cats.

back to top

Explore Featured Stories

Strong is the New Skinny

Strong is the New Skinny

Features 02-01-2020

Meet three local women who are becoming stronger in more ways than one. Read more

Community Theatre Needs You

Community Theatre Needs You

Features 02-01-2020

Check out your local community theatre. A whole new world awaits you! Read more

FBI Agents Today

FBI Agents Today

Features 01-02-2020

Meet three women who have enjoyed exciting careers as FBI Special Agents. Read more

A Girl, a Bracelet & a Prince

A Girl, a Bracelet & a Prince

Features 01-02-2020

 Don’t miss the happily-ever-after ending! Read more

Hands That Heal

Hands That Heal

Features 12-01-2019

Sometimes caring touch can go a long way toward healing what ails you. Read more

Profiles in Courage

Profiles in Courage

Features 11-01-2019

Don’t miss this story of courageous local women who have faced life-altering health problems. Read more

On the Field: Women & Soccer

On the Field: Women & Soccer

Features 09-30-2019

Women are having a ball on local soccer fields, staying fit and making friends. Read more

Blown Away: Women & Glass

Blown Away: Women & Glass

Features 09-02-2019

Meet three local women who share a passion for glass art! Read more

Beyond the Uniform

Beyond the Uniform

Features 08-01-2019

Today’s military pursue their humanitarian mission in their uniforms—and out. Read more