SOMA celebrates women’s history

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Women officials in Maplewood and South Orange, in partnership with the area business districts, have relaunched, the official website of SOMA Celebrates Women’s History where the two towns can learn about upcoming events and businesses can post promotions and offerings. Normally, events take place throughout March to celebrate Women’s History Month, but this year is the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote. So this celebration will continue all year with at least one event scheduled for every month of 2020, and with a voter registration drive hopefully culminating in a grand turnout for the November election. 

“We invite all residents of Maplewood, South Orange and surrounding towns to celebrate women all year in this, the 100th anniversary of getting the right to vote,” Maplewood Committeewoman Nancy Adams said. “All that women do for our communities and for our country should be recognized, appreciated and celebrated, and we want everyone to join in the fun this year.” 

This year will be the two towns’ third year formally recognizing Women’s History Month.

Sheena Collum, the first woman to hold the title of village president in South Orange’s long history, is excited to be celebrating all year. 

“We’re surrounded by fierce females every day, so don’t confuse our kindness for weakness,” Collum said. “Our lineup of events aims to combine empowerment, education and entertainment, and hopefully, we’ll end the year having built stronger relationships with one another.” 

Adams and Collum are joined on the steering committee by South Orange Trustees Karen Hartshorn Hilton, Summer Jones and Donna Coallier; Maplewood Democratic Committee Co-chairperson Garnet Hall, former Maplewood Deputy Mayor Kathy Leventhal, South Orange Maplewood Board of Education First Vice President Shannon Cuttle, South Orange Village Center Alliance Executive Director Julie Doran, Maplewood Village Alliance Director Deb Yohannan, Springfield Avenue Partnership Director Nicole Wallace, and Maplewood Director of Community Services Melissa Mancuso. 

Voter Registration forms will be available at all events. The preliminary lineup of events are as follows:

  • SOMA Day at Seton Hall women’s basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Seton Hall University Walsh Gymnasium, 400 South Orange Ave. in South Orange. Show ID proving residence in SOMA for discounted tickets to see the Pirates take on St. John’s. 
  • “Akeelah & The Bee” movie slumber party, Saturday, Feb. 22, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at South Orange Performing Arts Center Loft, 1 SOPAC Way. Bring your sleeping bag and yoga mat to this free event.
  • Women’s History Month Proclamation, Tuesday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Maplewood Town Hall, 574 Valley St. All women elected officials — past and present— are invited for a photo and participation in reading the proclamation.
  • International Women’s Day “Wear White for Women” group photo and mimosas, Saturday, March 7, at 10 a.m. on the front steps of Maplewood Town Hall, 574 Valley St. All are welcome.
  • Honoring the hard-won fight for women’s voting rights, Sunday, March 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Durand-Hedden House, 523 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood.
  • 2020 Maplewood Ideas Festival, from March 21 through April 4 at Maplewood Memorial Library, 51 Baker St. 

The SOMA Celebrates Women 2020 campaign is seeking help from topical experts and influencers to generate enthusiasm and help lead an event or events. Businesses looking to donate prizes or coordinate related activities should reach out to Julie Doran, Deb Yohannan or Nicole Wallace. To learn more and to volunteer, visit, use the official hashtag #SomaCelebratesWomen, join the SOMA Celebrates Women Facebook Group at, and follow @SomaCelebratesWomen on Instagram.