September can be a quiet month on Sanibel, but the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva is as busy as ever: welcoming
new members, finalizing plans for the next fundraiser, and actively advocating for important causes, but the
club paused recently to mark an important milestone.
Chartered in 1987, the club was recognized this month at the highest level for 35 years of service. Ute Scholz,
President of Zonta International and the Zonta Foundation for Women (zonta.org) wrote to club President Erika
Steiner: “It is with great pleasure that I congratulate you and the members of the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva
on your 35th anniversary. In the decades since your club was chartered, you have undoubtedly made a
difference for many women and girls, for which you can be proud.”
Janine Boardman, charter member and current President-elect, said: “Thirty-five years ago, a small group of
professional women had a vision of being part of something bigger than ourselves and beyond our community.
As mentors, we learned to empower women to see future possibilities; we shared an abundance of joyful and
amazing experiences; and we made many dreams a reality. To me, this is what it means to make a difference.”
On the world stage, the club’s foundation has been recognized repeatedly as one of the most generous
contributors to the Zonta International Foundation, while at home, the members have raised and distributed
well over $1 million to local non-profits who seek, like Zonta, to empower women. Three recent Zonta District
11 Governors (presiding over 7 southern states and 3 Caribbean nations) came from Sanibel-Captiva.
“We are fortunate to have a talented and accomplished membership, willing to roll up our sleeves and use our
skills to make women’s lives better,” Steiner said. “One of our most important assets is the enthusiasm our
members bring to each new project.”
Since 1987, the club has grown, as has its ability to effect positive change. Membership grew from 15 at the
start to around 60 this year. Fundraising also evolved, becoming more ambitious and successful. From 2002-
2019, “Peek at the Unique,” the annual home tour, was the club’s signature event, on hiatus since March 2020
due to the pandemic.
Since 2020, Zonta has turned to online auctions—a safe, efficient way to raise funds—and hosted a successful
forum on home design, remodeling and furnishing. The next auction is coming up October 1: watch for details
in the newspapers and on social media. Every dollar in proceeds is awarded in grants to non-profits.
Among service activities, Zonta members teach sewing and English to immigrant women; help finish or rehab
homes for Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build; organize Women’s Health Forums; raise awareness about
human trafficking; and work as mentors within organizations seeking to empower women and girls. Members
advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment; promote the national initiative Zonta Says No to Violence; engage in
efforts to eliminate child marriage; and support legislative initiatives such as Period Poverty. For information,
In her letter, ZI President Scholz added: “Around the world, women and girls face increasing challenges due to
COVID-19, climate change and threats to their human rights. However, we are a proud Zonta community of
strong and committed individuals working together at the local and global levels to fight for gender equality and
address these challenges …. with the more than 1,100 clubs around the world, the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva
has contributed significantly to building a better world for women and girls.”