Group of philanthropic women gives back to community and has fun while doing it

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Ladies from the Red Hat Society are difficult to overlook when they descend on a restaurant or a cultural event. Their red and purple outfits seem synonymous with women 50 and over with a lot of time on their hands. They do have a lot of fun, but for women who want to belong to something with a deeper commitment, there’s an alternative.

Ladies from the Red Hat Society are difficult to overlook when they descend on a restaurant or a cultural event. Their red and purple outfits seem synonymous with women 50 and over with a lot of time on their hands. They do have a lot of fun, but for women who want to belong to something with a deeper commitment, there’s an alternative.

The women of the Blue Thong Society (BTS) raise eyebrows at the mere mention of their group’s name. The thong refers to the flip-flop kind. For a chapter of BTS to form, it must align itself with a charity to benefit. Think good works and good fun, blue flip-flops and martinis rather than blue hair.
The Blue Thong Society is a group of philanthropic women which gives back to the community and has fun while doing it.

The Santee chapter of BTS, whose charity is Santee Santas, is making a good impression with people, especially since its leader, Kathy St. Onge, won the city’s Person of the Year Award.
“I did not even know I was nominated. I put in a vote for Sam Modica from Santee Santas,” St. Onge said.
The attractive blond, 50-something Santeean believes she won because she volunteers. “A lot,” she said. “Not with just one organization but with several organizations.”

The BTS tends to remain humble and behind the scenes in doing work with such organizations as Santee Santas, the city of Santee, Santee Food Bank, Edgemoor Hospital, American Red Cross, Burn Institute of San Diego and many other organizations.

The Santee chapter of the Blue Thong Society recently got together at the beginning of the school year to bring together backpacks and school supplies to donate to local schools.
Those volunteering posts have also included the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, AYSO, city of Santee, Santee Food Bank, Rock & Roll Marathon, American Red Cross and Santee schools, just to name a few.

“Being out in the public, people just get to know who you are. Plus I really enjoy doing it. And I think that shows,” she said.

St. Onge admits that volunteering comes naturally for her, since she comes from a long line of volunteers in her family. Her grandmother used to volunteer with the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts as well, along with PTA, the Tuberculosis Society and Crippled Children’s Clinic.

Her mother also has a long career in volunteering, helping out with diverse organizations from the Daughters of the American Revolution to Kiwanis and the Salvation Army.

“We have what we call ‘helium hand.’ We hear the word volunteer, and our hand raises up like it’s filled with helium,” St. Onge joked.

Watching the Saturday morning KUSI news one day about seven years ago was how St. Onge discovered the Blue Thong Society. The BTS founders were talking about the organization and what its mission was. The BTS was having a kick-off event that night but she could not make it to the event.

“But I knew I wanted to be a part of the Blue Thong Society. I went straight to the computer and signed up. After the four founders, I am the fifth member to sign up,” she said.

The closest chapter at the time was in La Mesa. A few months later a chapter was getting started in Santee. Always the volunteer, St. Onge asked the director if she needed any help.
“She asked if I wanted to take over starting the one in Santee. I said of course,” St. Onge said.
Being in the Blue Thong Society is second nature for St. Onge, who had been a Girl Scout for nine years and a leader in Santee for 13 years.

“To me the Blue Thong Society is like being a grown up Girl Scout. We do fun things with our friends and do community service,” she said.
Getting new members to Santee BTS was easy for St. Onge. She simply called up some of her fellow Girl Scout leaders. They had their first meeting in September 2002.
They called the new chapter “Santeenies,” from a clever word play on Santee and martini, since the signature drink for BTS is Thongtini, a blue martini.

For St. Onge, doing service is never about doing things halfway. Not only is she the director for the Santee chapter, she is also the regional director for south San Diego’s chapter and a member liaison. In addition, she maintains the BTS website and is the conference activity coordinator for 2013.
“I feel very passionate about the Blue Thong Society. You can only imagine the power that over 4,000 women can have to change the world,” she said.

For more information go to www.bluethongsociety.com or email her directly at btssantee@cox.net.

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