Five Rogue Valley Soroptimist clubs, from Ashland to Grants Pass, have given Women's Opportunity Awards totaling $9,500 to six local women who are heads of their households and who are attending Rogue Community College. One of these winners, Linda J. Edholm of Medford, also is receiving an additional $1,000 as a Soroptimist Northwestern Regional winner.

Five Rogue Valley Soroptimist clubs, from Ashland to Grants Pass, have given Women's Opportunity Awards totaling $9,500 to six local women who are heads of their households and who are attending Rogue Community College. One of these winners, Linda J. Edholm of Medford, also is receiving an additional $1,000 as a Soroptimist Northwestern Regional winner.

The grants are designed to help women improve their employment status by gaining additional education and skills. Most of women who receive awards have overcome the obstacles of domestic violence, drug abuse or other hardships in their families to improve their lives through education. Winners may use the award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education, including books, child care and transportation.

SI/Ashland's winner is Edholm, who is completing her transfer degree to Southern Oregon University, where she will study for a bachelor's degree in human communications with a certificate in nonprofit management. A single mom with two children, she will receive $3,000 from the Ashland club, with an additional $1,000 as a regional winner. SI/Medford's winner is Lynn Y. Van Couvering of Grants Pass with a $1,500 award. She has matriculated with the Oregon School of Technology for a bachelor's degree in health care informatics, a special program in electronic medical records and information technology. She has overcome an economic downturn in a business she owned and is a single mom with four children. SI/ Rogue Valley Sunrise (Medford morning club) is giving two awards. Its first-place winner is Nicole L. Doran of Ashland, who is finishing her associate transfer degree this winter, eventually earning a degree in business administration. A mother of three daughters, Doran works full time. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the RCC academic honor society. She will receive a $2,000 award. Second-place winner is Nichelle I. Laabs of Medford. She is studying her prerequisites for nursing school. She hopes that being a nurse will help her provide a stable life for her and her two teenage children. She will be awarded $1,000. SI/North Valley (Central Point) will award Tamara J. Kane of Grants Pass a $1,000 grant. Kane is studying for a two-year applied sciences degree in early childhood education. She is a single mom with one daughter. A volunteer with KidZone, she hopes to be a pre-school or kindergarten teacher. SI/River Valley (Grants Pass) will award Christa M. Brown of Grants Pass a $1,000 grant. She is studying for an associate transfer degree in psychology and an associate of arts degree in general studies: criminology. She plans to move on to a four-year university to complete her bachelor's degree. Brown eventually wants to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes. She is a single mom with a 7-year-old daughter. She is a member and an officer of Phi Theta Kappa. She also is a community volunteer.

For more information about the Women's Opportunity Awards, Soroptimist projects and membership, contact Kathy Garrett Canape at 541-482-6288 or visit www.SoroptimistRV.org.