Young Empowered Women
MAR. 18, 2021
On September 21, 2020, Healdsburg High (HHS) senior, Izabel Soto, founded the Young Empowered Women Club, known as YEW for short.
On September 21, 2020, Healdsburg High (HHS) senior, Izabel Soto, founded the Young Empowered Women Club, known as YEW for short. This club is the first of its kind at HHS, and since its foundation, it has become increasingly popular among students of every grade. With guest speakers each month along with a variety of community events, this organization is unlike any other.
Izabel founded the club in hopes of creating a platform for young women to share in their hardships and be more connected despite distance learning. “ I just wanted to create a safe environment for the women in our high school, to feel supported, to come together, and to feel like you're not alone,” said Izabel.
The YEW club’s success can largely be attributed to Izabel herself, who serves as a role model for many girls at HHS. “For me personally, being around girls who are motivated to do good things in life motivates me to keep going. Over the summer, I saw Izabel was really being active in the community, and so when she founded YEW, she inspired me to join,” said member Viviana Gutierrez. Izabel has built off of her past struggles, and used that as a platform to build this club upon. “I have had a lot of women message me privately saying they can relate to the things I have been through and that I inspire them, it all kind of surprised me,” she said. She has used her past to create an open and accepting environment within the club, where no one is to feel judged and where everyone has a voice.
“When I first heard of the club I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it because I believe that women need to be more represented in power,” said Moana Cook. She continued on to explain her reasoning for joining, particularly because she wanted a way to give back to the community as Izabel has been doing. Member Beca Gonzales agreed with Moana’s statement and said, “Well, for me, I had never heard of a club like this before at our school, it's very unlike the usual generic clubs you usually hear about.”
This overwhelming support empowered Izabel not only to found the club but to expand it. She started by creating a social media challenge called “Lemons Into Lemonade.” “We wanted to do a challenge that was covid friendly, so what we did was we made this challenge online,” said Izabel. This challenge was ultimately created in support of sexual abuse survivors. The theme was lemons and required participants to make lemonade and share pictures with posters using the hashtags #standupwithsurvivors and #lemonsintolemonade. Participation was to show unity with survivors, supported by the slogan “sour situations turned into sweet support.”
After this social media outreach, the club decided to go beyond and organize a community event. What resulted was an Essential Health Drive. This drive-through event outside HHS was to collect items to donate to YWCA, which is an organization that helps women who have been domestically abused by giving them shelter and resources. The drive called for an array of hygiene products, for example shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, make-up, feminine hygiene products, and more. The idea was to build off of the survivor-themed social media challenge and give back to the community.
“I want every woman to know that her beautiful voice can change the world,” said Izabel. This is the basis of Izabel’s philosophy, and also the foundation of the club culture she has created. This culture is one of acceptance and support, teamwork and individuality, as well as kindness and compassion. The YEW club is always looking for new members, and anyone is always welcome to join.