10:30am | There are forces in the United States that play politics with health. And because the American political scene is still a mostly-males game, women’s services are vulnerable targets, as anyone familiar with the recent Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood schism can tell you.

Thus the importance of groups like Soroptimist, an international organization of 95,000 women volunteering “to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world.”

On Friday, March 16, the Sorpotimist International of the Los Angeles Harbor chapter will hold its fourth annual “What a Pair” fundraiser, all proceeds of which will go toward the Providence Little Company of Mary Mammography Unit, along with other local women’s/girls’ causes.

And when we say all the proceeds, that’s exactly what we mean, as Soroptimist does not extract administrative costs from the money it takes in.

“Not one cent sliced in half goes to administrative costs,” says Marta Valladolid, the event’s chairperson. “Just to give you an idea, not even the stationery and stuff that we print is taken from that money that we accrue that night. […] We pride ourselves in saying that everything goes straight to where it needs to go: for breast cancer and other women’s philanthropies here in our community and abroad.”


The mammography unit at the Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro was founded ___ years ago with a $50,000 endowment from the Soroptimist Los Angeles Harbor chapter, to which each year it receives a minimum of $10,000 from the annual fundraiser. Valladolid says last year $32,000 was raised, $15,000 of which went to the mammography unit, while the remainder being distributed to other local organizations benefitting women and girls, including House of Hope, Rainbow Services, the Boys & Girls Club, and local schools. 

Valladolid reports that during the last year 532 women benefitted from the Soroptimist Mammography Fund, which provides free screening mammograms and follow-up tests to women 40 and over who lack insurance and don’t qualify for Medi-Cal.

Friday’s fundraiser, to be held at the Croatian Cultural Center, will feature wine, tapas, live music, and live and silent auctions of donated artwork, including the most elegantly and intricately decorated bras you’ve ever seen. 

“It becomes very exciting when you see grown adults moving around with these highly fashioned, decorated bras,” Valladolid says.

El Imagenero is a Long Beach artist/photographer who is donating a half-dozen works for auction. 


“When I talked to them and found out more about exactly how they do it, all I could think of was how much I could possibly get involved with this,” he says, “because I thought it was great that they raise money and it goes directly to the place that it’s supposed to go. There’s no middle organization, there’s no administration or anything like that; they raise a dollar, and [all of] that dollar goes directly to the charity.”

The Soroptimist Los Angeles Harbor chapter consists of only 23 volunteers, which just goes to show how much good a dedicated group of women can do. But they can always use more help — regardless of gender. So come out and drink some wine, hear some music, see some bras, buy some art. You never know whose life you might save by having a night of fun.

The Soroptimist International of the Los Angeles Harbor’s “What a Pair” fundraiser takes place at the Croatian Cultural Center (510 W. 7th St., San Pedro) on Friday, March 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets: $65 single, $120 for a pair. For more information or to sponsor a decorated bra, call (310) 832-5482 or e-mail [email protected].