Soroptimist International of Ashland held its annual awards luncheon Wednesday, May 11, at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

Speakers celebrated the chapter being recognized this year by the city with its top award for volunteerism, the Ragland Volunteer of the Year Award, and ongoing progress with its signature project, the Soroptimist Strong Girls, Strong Women effort, which includes "lunch buddies," after school and book programs.

Soroptimists presented awards for:

• Southern Oregon University (SOU) Women's Athletic Award, $1,500 to Kylie Moltzen;

• Vicki Smith Memorial Ashland High School Scholarship, $1,500 each to AHS seniors Sarah Lashoff and Zoey Petrone;

• Vocational-Technical Award, $500 each to Makayla Bellis of Ashland High School and Monserrad Ramirez of Phoenix High School;

• SOU Grant-in-Aid, to SOU students Dusti Campbell ($2,000) and Bethany Dawson ($1,000); and the

• Live Your Dream Award for women who are primary wage-earners for their families and enrolled in vocational or undergraduate degree programs to Aubrey FitzGerald (in absentia, $2,000) and Paige Johnson ($1,000).

Finally, the Women Helping Women award of $500 for "a woman who initiates or manages an innovative community project that benefits women and girls" was presented to Grants Pass resident Agnes Emma Baker Pilgrim, spiritual elder of the Takelma tribe and chairperson of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers.

 

"We have this invisible umbilical cord to the earth," Baker Pilgrim told the nearly all-female audience, speaking of women's "nurturing" relationship to the world in which they live. "More and more women are taking over prestigious jobs, I'm glad to see that. Soroptimists are helping."

Affectionately known as “Grandma Aggie,” she has come to see her role in life as serving as a "voice for the voiceless." She said "as I grow up and have some gray hair," she also wants to help people ensure all people have "good water and good air — we're all in this leaky canoe together," she said, "so they can grow up to be 92 like me."

For more information about the Soroptimists, go to www.soroptimistRV.org or send an email to siashland@soroptimist.net.

Photos by Christina Christensen