$5,000 to fight bullying is group's final gift

Money for Roosevelt Elementary marks end of Jackson County Medical Alliance

MEDFORD — A local organization that traces its roots back eight decades to the heyday of civic clubs and ladies' luncheons will quietly close up shop this week with a final act of kindness for one local school.

The Jackson County Medical Alliance, founded by a group of nine doctors' wives in 1931, during a time when social networking was done through civic clubs, will donate $5,000 to Roosevelt Elementary School via The Protectors anti-bullying program (theprotectors.org) during a farewell luncheon today for members at Veranda Park.

The decision to dissolve the organization, supporters say, stems from a changing society and dwindling membership in recent years.

President Sue Martin said an attempted revival had been unsuccessful, likely because of the many opportunities available nowadays that weren't around nearly a century ago.

"We're definitely sad to see it go, and it was a difficult decision for many of the board members. But we tried changing it up and we just couldn't get things moving. This started during a time when there were the old social organizations like the Masons and the Elks, and things today are just different," Martin said. "It had been lagging for the past five years, at least. It was time."

The group, which makes an annual $5,000 donation raised from member contributions each year, decided to use its final gift to address the more modern issue of bullying.

Martin said the group has donated $5,000 to various causes each year, ranging from Maslow Project and Dunn House to issues such as Internet safety and diaper drives.

With specific interest expressed by Roosevelt Elementary staff, which voiced a desire to have students participate in the locally based national bullying program, Martin said the decision was a no-brainer.

Paul Coughlin, the Medford-based founder of The Protectors, said he hoped that implementation of the program in another local school would spark interest around the region.

"A number of schools throughout Southern Oregon have a need for what we provide, but they just don't have the kind of budget anymore to bring in a program that is comprehensive and that, over a period of time, can help diminish this form of child-on-child aggression," Coughlin said, noting that targets of bullies are more likely to commit a felony by their 20s and are more likely to abuse future spouses or children than youngsters who did not experience bullying.

"We're extremely grateful that the Jackson County Medical Alliance chose us, and we hope to build on this and bring The Protectors to other schools in our region, as well. It's extremely important."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

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