Opinion

Award helps local woman fulfill her dream | Guest column

By Theresa Simendinger

Special to the Journal

In 2010, Angela Bolger was the voice on the phone when you called the Sheriff’s Office offering comfort and help. You would not know this newly separated mother of two teenage boys had a dream from childhood of becoming a registered nurse.

Bolger was working two jobs, at the Sheriff’s Office and the Medical Center as a licensed practical nurse.  She was struggling to keep it all together for her boys, still hoping her dream might one day come true.

Early in 2009 things were not going well for Bolger.  Having just lost her home and car she was desperate. Lenore Bayuk, whom she credits as her mentor through it all, happened to be a Soroptimist. As Bolger relates it, Bayuk encouraged Bolger to apply for the Women’s Opportunity Award.

Given annually by Soroptimist of Friday Harbor, the award is intended to help “head of household” women who are enrolled in or accepted to an undergraduate degree program or a vocational skills program. Bolger was not only awarded the coveted $2,500 from our local chapter in 2010, she went on to be awarded the regional prize of another $2,500.

The award money is intended to be used to offset any costs associated with the recipient’s effort to attain higher education; including books, childcare, transportation, etc.

Bolger still tears up at the memory of the support she felt from the community of women in Friday Harbor. She bought a car for $1,000. The remaining sum together with student loans is being used for tuition, books, etc. She remembers clearly going to a garage sale looking for a table to study on. Remembering fondly yet another angel, the woman who ran the garage sale was also a Soroptimist. After recognizing Bolger as the 2010 winner she then sold Bolger a computer for $20.  Bolger completes all her classwork on the same computer.

Bolger recalls that after finishing as many classes as possible at San Juan Island branch of Skagit Valley Community College, it was necessary to transfer to Whatcom Community College.  She has one more quarter to go and then hopes to be accepted to the RN program. She cannot apply until she completes her final quarter. Bolger is currently working two jobs while continuing her education and supporting her family.

Her two sons, although upset at her leaving the Friday Harbor community, consider Bolger a great role model in what she has already achieved.

Bolger’s voice has a waver as she recalls the love and support from Soroptimist. She wants to succeed “for all who put their faith in me.”

Her boys are right, Angela Bolger is already a success story to anyone who hears of this woman’s struggle at 42 to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an RN.

Dec. 1 is the final day for applications to be accepted and to be in competition for the Northwest regional award of an additional $4,000 to the Friday Harbor Award of $5,000.

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