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Soroptimist report: Helping women lived their dreams

Live Your Dream! For many people that may mean lying on a sunny beach or exploring exciting foreign lands. For far too many women around the world it means surviving day to day and being able to feed, clothe and shelter their families. It is for these women that Soroptimist International created the Live Your Dream Awards. These awards assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. Since 1972, SI clubs of the Americas have awarded more than $30 million to 30,000 women, and annually clubs award about $2 million to 1,500 women who have faced and overcome such obstacles as poverty, domestic violence, sex trafficking, and drug or alcohol addiction.

This year Soroptimist International of Ashland will award three local women a Live Your Dream Award (LYD). Our first place winner receives a $2,000 award, and our second place winners receive a $1,000 award. Again this year our club is matching a generous $500 gift from a local business, the Crown Jewel, to provide an additional second place award. Owners Anne and Jason Robison wanted “to be there to help provide support & encouragement” to a local woman who has “the courage & determination to turn [her] life around.”

Ashland Soroptimists work with the other four clubs in the Rogue Valley to choose 12 local winners, some of whom will go on to compete for a further $3,000 or $5,000 award, and region-level award recipients then become eligible to receive one of three SI of the Americas $10,000 awards.

Jane P. is our SI Ashland’s 2019 first place winner receiving $2,000. And, she won an additional $3,000 at the regional level! Jane’s goal is to be a bilingual elementary teacher and inspire young students to dream big. SI Ashland has two second place winners, each receiving $1,000. Janet H. is studying in the nursing program at SOU and E.O. is majoring in math with her sights set on grad school. All three women support their children, work to earn a living and go to school.

“Soroptimist” means Best for Women, and Soroptimists are volunteers dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls locally and throughout the world. We know that education is the key to achieving women’s social and economic empowerment, so we invest as much as we can in educational grants. Soroptimist International of Ashland awards grants to outstanding girls graduating from Ashland High School and Phoenix High School who will be going on to further their training or education. We also award a merit-based scholarship to an accomplished SOU student as well as an award to an outstanding woman athlete at SOU. However, LYD is our primary tool to empower women to improve their lives through education.

Soroptimist International of Ashland funds our awards by renting pillows and blankets to theater-goers at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theater. Our partnership with OSF was established in 1949, and we are proud to give half of our net proceeds to OSF and use our half to fund Live Your Dream and our other scholarships and awards. We would be pleased to rent our pillows and blankets to you this summer, so we can continue to help women and girls pursue an education and live their dreams.

Soroptimist Report appears quarterly in the Tidings. For more, go to www.soroptimistrv.org/siashland.html, call President Colleen Chambers at 775-297-6582 or email siashland@soroptimist.net.