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Soroptomists present awards

Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe and Soroptimist International Tahoe Sierra recently distributed $3,600 to four recipients of the Women’s Opportunity Award. The recipients are Joyce Jeffers, Sierra Deuel, Stephanie Barratt and Alexandra Hervey. The Soroptimist clubs believe the award will give these mature women the opportunity to find the strength and confidence to complete their goals.

The Women’s Opportunity Awards are intended to help women attain the education and/or vocational skills they have not previously had the opportunity to pursue, whether because of economic or social barriers or personal circumstances. Women’s Opportunity Award recipients are women who find themselves entering or reentering the work force, and in need of educational skills to improve their career opportunities – and by doing so improve their standard of living.

Applications were placed at Lake Tahoe Community College, South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center and local job placement facilities that would have an opportunity to reach women who would qualify for the grants. The committee gave the judges, who are not members of Soroptimist, copies of the applications as well as guided judging sheets to evaluate the candidates. Judges are Debbie Neall, employee relations manager for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe; Diane Rosner, Lake Tahoe Community College Foreign Language Department; and Jenny Cooper, owner of Emerald Bay Physical Therapy.



This year’s award winners as a group have overcome drug and alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, child abandonment, severe physical ailments, learning disabilities and financial hardships.

The first-place winner of $1,200 is Joyce Jeffers, the mother of two young children. She is a student at Lake Tahoe Community College and plans to get a degree in general studies before transferring to Humboldt State College. Her goal is to get a degree in early childhood development. Jeffers desires to work with mentally, physically and emotionally handicapped people. Until now she had only a ninth-grade education and she has overcome medical and personal problems to bring herself to this level of education. She perseveres in what she undertakes and is an inspiration to those around her. Jeffers is an exceptional mother and volunteers at her sons’ school. She demonstrated natural leadership abilities.



The second-place winner of $1,000 is Sierra Deuel. Besides raising a toddler she works 30 hours a week at Placer Independent Resources Services, Inc. She has completed her associate of arts degree in humanities at Lake Tahoe Community College and plans to transfer to the University of California, Davis. She will enroll in the university’s animal science program with a minor in communications. Her goal is to lobby for better laws to protect animals from abuse and poaching. She also has overcome abandonment and financial hardships and demonstrates a strong desire to achieve her career goals while caring for her child.

Stephanie Barratt is the winner of the third-place award of $800. She is the mother of two children and is enrolled at Lake Tahoe Community College with plans to get an associate of arts degree in medical assistance. Her long term goal is to become a physical therapist and she is currently working at Johnson Physical Therapy. Barratt’s decision to go back to school was to better herself and the life of her children. She has overcome a learning challenge and shows no evidence of it as she has received high marks and accolades from her college professors.

Alexandra Hervey is the fourth-place winner and received a $600 scholarship. She is the mother of a 4-year-old son. She started her studies at Bakersfield College and currently is enrolled in the nursing program at Lake Tahoe Community College. Hervey has had a hard time financially and has found it difficult to get ahead without an education. She is very determined, has a lot of inner strength and hopes to better the life of her son.

Jeffers and Deuel, as the first- and second-place winners, will have their names put forward to the Sierra Nevada Region, where the awards are $5,000 and $3,000, with a National finalist award of $10,000.

The Women’s Opportunity Award committee members are Adele Lucas, Lucy Upton and Ellen Goldberg of Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe and Karen Johnson, Terri Bonesteel, Laura Rasmussen, Hilary Harrison, Daphne Forte, Lynn Wright, Joanne Tillson and Carol Goodenough of Soroptimist International of Tahoe Sierra.


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