Soroptimists give awards

The Soroptimist international of Gresham held an awards ceremony Thursday, March 10, and gave out six awards, totaling $4,500, in four categories.

The Women's Opportunity Award

The Women's Opportunity Award was established in 1972 to assist motivated women who are the primary financial supporters in their family. First place receives $1,500 and second place receives $1,000.

Tonnya Garthe received first place. She is the single mother of two boys and a student in the mental health program at Mt. Hood Community College. She is a survivor of drug addiction and abusive relationships. She plans to attend Portland State University and start a career in social work.

Veronica Vargas received second place. She came to the United States from Mexico in 1991 to escape violence and to make a better life for her family. She hopes to get her associate degree in computer sciences from Mt. Hood and potentially become a medical assistant.

Ruby Award

The Ruby Award honors women who use their professional or personal influence to improve the lives of women and children. Since an employee, company or organization receives the award, the check for $500 is given to the organization in their name.

Jacki Washington, a retired teacher, became involved with My Father's House in 2005. She became a case manager, dealing with the toughest cases, and teaches the Genesis Process, a recovery program for those wishing to free themselves from addiction. When My Father's House moved to a new location in 2008, Washington gave up her home and moved into the house, where she also handles several other duties.

Violet Richardson Award

The Violet Richardson Award recognizes young women, ages 14 to 17, who are engaged in volunteer action in their schools or communities. First place receives $1,000, and second place receives $500.

First-place recipient Melissa Taylor has volunteered at Big Brothers Big Sisters for three years, mentoring a Little Brother at this time. She has also visited South Africa two times with the Thrive Africa program, where volunteers reach out to local children and adults and do community work. She also visited Mexico two times for a similar program.

Second-place recipient Katherine Westmoreland has served on the Multnomah County Youth Commission and is co-chair of the sustainability subcommittee, which is credited with establishing the Youth Pass program.

The Soroptimists also gave an award to Dorothea Zarosinski to thank her for her special donation of handmade quilts, which were given to families in crisis through the Department of Human Services.

Soroptimist international of Gresham is part of Soroptimist international of the Americas, an international organization for business and professional women who work on projects to improve the lives of women and children.

The Gresham Soroptimists club has about 45 members and meets Thursdays at the Gresham Elks Lodge, 3330 N.E. Division St.

Driscoll on cover of magazine

Gresham City Hall employee and fundraiser extraordinaire Tam Driscoll is featured in a cover article in the July issue of Runner's World magazine.

The issue is dedicated to outrunning cancer and features an article about Team In Training, which is a series of endurance events designed to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training athletes.

For three years in a row Driscoll - a communications manager for the city of Gresham - has been one of the top team fundraisers in the nation, raising more than $160,000 to fund research to cure blood cancers.

Driscoll, 47, joined Team in Training in 2001 in part to lose baby weight. Two years later, her sister, Nancy, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Nancy fought back, but after five years of remission, the cancer came back. She died in June 2009.

A feature article about Driscoll and her fundraising prowess ran in a September 2009 issue of The Outlook.

McDonald's employee retires after 37 years with company

Fairview resident Sharon Puckett, an assistant manager at the Troutdale McDonald's on Cherry Park Road, celebrated her retirement Thursday, June 2, with a celebration among employees, friends and customers that commemorated her 37-year career with the company.

Puckett started working for McDonald's in October 1974 at the Gresham location on Burnside Road and Division Street. Since then, she has worked at McDonald's locations in Sandy, Jantzen Beach and Cherry Park. Her three children also have worked for McDonald's over the years.

Ollie Lund, a McDonald's franchise operator, hired Puckett when he opened the Gresham location. Puckett ended her career at the Cherry Park McDonald's. Lund praised Puckett as a dependable employee who always set a positive example for other workers.

'She (is) a great lady,' he said. 'We'll all miss her.'

During her retirement party, Puckett was joined by friends Janet Alexander, who retired from McDonald's last year after 26 years, and Nadel 'Birdie' Herrel, who retired 11 years ago. Puckett plans to spend her retirement in Eastern Oregon.

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