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Local women honored with awards


The Soroptimist International Club of Gresham is recognizing women who are making a positive difference in their own lives, and in the lives of people in their community.

The women received awards during a ceremony March 8. The awards totaled several thousand dollars in two categories.

Soroptimist International is an organization for business and professional women who work on projects to improve the lives of women and children. The Gresham club meets at noon on Thursdays at the Gresham Elks Lodge, 3330 N.E. Division St.

The Women's Opportunity Award

This award is given to women who are the primary financial supporters in their family.

The recipients are seeking to improve their lives through additional skills, training and education, although they may not have the financial resources. The first place prize is $3,500 and second place is $2,000.

• Kristine Hopkins, first-place, is a single mother of one son with Asperger's syndrome and is studying for her associate degree at Mt. Hood Community College. Her goal is to earn advanced degrees in environmental and geological sciences at Portland State University. A survivor of domestic violence, drug abuse and poverty, Hopkins volunteers at local women's shelters and with SOLV.

• Maria Ramos, second place, is a caregiver for the disabled and elderly and a part-time student at Mt. Hood Community College. She moved to the United States with her children from Mexico to leave an abusive relationship. She worked in agriculture before becoming a caregiver. Her career goal is in nursing.

• Gloria Sanchez was the first-place winner of the Women's Opportunity Award for the Hillsboro club (her application was forwarded to Hillsboro because of the lack of applicants there).

She is a single mother of a son with Down syndrome and is employed as a bilingual assistant. She received her associate degree from Clackamas Community College and is working toward a degree in health care administration.

The judges who assisted in the selection of this year's recipients were Karen Johnston, co-owner of All About Automotive; Dorothy Douglas, co-owner of Douglas Equipment; and Karilynn Echols, a Gresham city councilor.

Violet Richardson Award

The Violet Richardson Award recognizes young women, ages 14 to 17, who volunteer within their schools or communities. First place winners receive $1,500, second place winners earn $1,000 and third place winners earn $500.

• Kaitlyn Franklin, first-place, has volunteered for two years as a peer educator and counselor at Gresham High School. She wrote an article about healthy relationships, which was published in Planned Parenthood's national newsletter.

• Megan Free, second-place, is a Barlow High School student. She volunteers at Kaiser Permanente, where she comforts families and patients who are waiting for emergency room care. She said she wants to pursue a career as a physician.

• Carolyn Ewing, third-place, is a student at Barlow High School and is a member of Students Take Action Now Darfur (STAND), a student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network. Her favorite project is selling Busoga beads to help women in Uganda provide income for their families.

The judges who assisted in the selection of this year's recipients were Cassie McVeety, vice president of college advancement at Mt. Hood Community College and executive director of the college's foundation; Diane Noriega, a Mt. Hood board member; and Cheryl Swart, advertising director for The Gresham Outlook.