ST. GEORGE — When the Southern Utah Ladies Society was founded in January 2020, its first members were excited to host engaging community functions and raise money for good causes in and around St. George.
What they failed to plan for was a pandemic. COVID-19 put a pause on public gatherings and forced the fledgling nonprofit to adjust its plans within a few short months. Now, the Southern Utah Ladies Society is ready to come back, hit the ground running and has already begun giving back to the community through local fundraising events.
“We kind of had a rough start because of COVID,” said LuAnn Skaro, the society’s vice president. “It started with seven of us, and obviously it was a little hard to grow because we really couldn’t have meetings or events. Now we’re really going strong.”
On April 7, the society was finally able to host its first fundraising event: a trivia night to benefit at-risk kids in the Washington County School District. By selling 40 tickets for entry in the competition, as well as raffle tickets to win prizes donated by members, the ladies society was able to raise almost $1500.
Student Services Coordinator and Homeless Liaison Mike Carr received the check on behalf of the school district foundation and said the funds were donated to an account dedicated to improving students’ mental health and wellbeing.
“We’ve paid for Internet services for families this year, some transportation needs and several medical type things, including dental work,” Carr said. “I think they’re trying to spread the love. It’s a blessing: it means one more service we can provide for students, and we’re not quite so limited with what we can do.”
Carr said the society members had made plans to host a fundraiser to benefit the school district foundation all the way back in Spring 2020, and they made good on their commitment to help out as soon as gathering restrictions were lifted in 2021.
The Southern Utah Ladies Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that started in the home of President Wendy Moore. Moore said she invited six of her friends, mostly of retirement age, to join her at her home and brainstorm ways to get involved in the community.
“I looked into some organizations, and they were just so aimed at helping one cause,” Moore said. “I wanted to help the community as a whole, so my friends and I started chit-chatting and the Southern Utah Ladies Society was born.”
Though the society got its start in a close-knit group of like-minded peers, the organization has since grown to include women of all ages and backgrounds, from retirees and women in the workforce to native Utahns and transplants like Moore and Skaro.
The society is now 35 members strong and growing by the month. To join, women must complete a short membership application and pay an annual fee of $36. The funds go directly towards events and organizational costs, with society leaders serving as volunteers to keep costs low, Moore said.
“There’s a big need to help kids here, so that’s a lot of what’s going on,” Moore said. “The nice thing is that if there’s something that’s near and dear to a member’s heart they can come to the board and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to raise money for this organization.’ I just like being able to give to a lot of different causes.”
Plans for the future
The next event hosted by the society will be a “Bites and Bingo” event held on June 23 to benefit Providing Animals With Support. The 60 tickets for admittance were sold out within three days, which Skaro said was a pleasant surprise.
“We’re trying to do an event every few months, and it kind of depends on our membership,” Skaro said. “The next (society) meeting will be at Café Sabor on June 16. You can come have dinner, hear what’s going on and we always have a speaker or some sort of program for the evening.”
The society’s monthly meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month and are open to all members of the public.
For now, Moore said the goal is to host at least 3-4 fundraising events each year to benefit local charities or to support organizations doing good in Southern Utah. The nonprofit will be hosting another trivia night on Sept. 1, a concert in October, and a boutique sale in December to benefit Girls on the Run.
“My goal is to have 100 members by the end of the year,” Moore said. “I would love for it (the society) to become a staple in St. George. If you come check us out, you’ll learn about the community and make some friends along the way.”
For more information about upcoming events or to get involved, visit the society’s Facebook page or text SULS to 64600.
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