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Ashland on Monday to celebrate volunteers, check in on where city is at, where it's going

All Ashland residents are invited to a city gathering Monday to present the James M. Ragland "Volunteer Spirit" Award, hear the annual State of the City address by Mayor John Stromberg and honor outgoing state Rep. Peter Buckley.

This year's winner of the Ragland honor, established by the city of Ashland in 1994 in honor of a former councilor who was involved in a number of citizen volunteer efforts, goes to Soroptimist International of Ashland, selected from among five nominations this year.

Soroptimist was selected for its work to improve the lives of women and girls. This year Soroptimist International of Ashland will celebrate its 70th year of service to the community.

The parent organization, Soroptimist International, is a volunteer service organization founded in 1921 that now has 80,000 members in 130 countries. The Ashland chapter has 50 members from a variety of professions, some who are newcomers and some who have lived here 50 or more years.

Key Soroptimist programs include:

• The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Fellowships, Apprenticeships, Internships and Residencies (FAIR) program, funded by the outdoor theater pillow and blanket rental booth operated by Soroptimists since 1949;

• A scholarship program started in 1947 for local girls and women that in recent years has distributed about $13,000 in academic, vocational and athletic scholarships to students from Ashland and Talent high schools, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University;

• Soroptimist Strong Girls Strong Women, established in 2008 to give girls in kindergarten through fifth grade at Helman Elementary School leadership, confidence and academic strength in mathematics and science to enhance their self-esteem and problem-solving abilities, which will serve 47 girls this year; and

• Distribution of a unique coffee table photo book called "Beauty After Breast Cancer" by local registered nurse Katelyn Carey.

The second annual State of the City celebration begins with appetizers and social time at 5:30, followed by a welcome, introductions, year-in-review remarks and the main program starting at 6 p.m. in the Community Center at 59 Winburn Way. For details, call 541-488-6002 or go to bit.ly/1Rz1bBt.

Send RSVPs by phone to 541-552-2100 or email diana.shiplet@ashland.or.us.