June 21, 2024

Soroptimist Report: Building community through education

Soroptimist International of Ashland, founded in 1946, has served Ashland for more than 77 years.
February 16, 2024

Sponsors sought to boost April ‘Dream Builders Luncheon’ and scholarship funding

By Sue Macmeeken and Joy Dobson Way

Soroptimist International of Ashland (SIA), which strives to build community through education, will host a Dream Builders Luncheon in April to raise funds for its scholarship, grants and awards program. The lunch is complimentary and 100% of the donations we receive will go to support our scholarship program. Our goals are to increase funding for our existing scholarships and to diversify our program to include career certifications, licenses, and advanced job training for women in the Rogue Valley.

We are seeking sponsors and donors for this event. Sponsorships start at $500 and we will acknowledge you as a sponsor at our luncheon, on our SIA website, and on Facebook. At higher donation levels, we will display your logo on our website, and at the luncheon. Also, we will accept donations of special items or gift cards that would be fun for a silent auction or raffle at the event. All donations are tax-deductible and 100% will go to support our SIA scholarship program.

Seeking ‘Dream Builders’
Soroptimist International of Ashland is looking for sponsors for its upcoming Dream Builders Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites. The fundraising event includes a free lunch for all attendees. All funds raised through sponsors and event donations go to support life-changing education for women and girls in the Rogue Valley. Go to for more information.

SIA was founded in Ashland over 75 years ago. Since 1946, we have empowered women and girls to live their dreams, primarily thorough scholarships funded by our annual income from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Elizabethan Theatre pillow and blanket rental booth. Faced with wildfire smoke, COVID, and OSF’s recent downsizing of the outdoor theater productions, our income from the booth has decreased. This has challenged us to look for new funding to support and expand our invaluable scholarship program for women and girls.

The cost of obtaining a college education in the U.S. has increased five times the rate of general rate of inflation since 1980 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Today the average annual cost to attend Southern Oregon University is over $27,000; the University of Oregon, $30,000; and Lewis and Clark, a private college, over $76,000. SIA distributes between $15,000 and $25,000 in scholarships, grants, and awards to women and girls in our community annually. We need to do more.

The mainstay of our scholarship program is The Live Your Dream Award — Soroptimist of America’s signature award — that is given to a woman pursuing a degree, who is caring or providing for a dependent(s) living in her household. Our scholarships for high school graduating seniors include the Vicki Smith Memorial Scholarship at Ashland High School and the Vocational-Technical Scholarship at Ashland and Phoenix high schools. SIA Scholarships for enrolled students at Southern Oregon University (SOU) include both the SOU Grant-in-Aid and SOU Athletic Awards.

If you are interested in supporting SIA efforts to empower local women and girls to live their dreams, consider becoming a sponsor or making a donation of any amount. Please consider coming to our luncheon. Or visit our website at to learn more. Thank you for your ongoing support of women and girls in our community.

Soroptimist International of Ashland meets at noon the first through fourth Wednesdays of each month from September through June at Puerta Mazatlan, 1209 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, and invites anyone with an interest in improving the lives of women and girls to attend. For more information, email

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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