Sometimes we need a hand to lift us up. 

Soroptimist International of South Whidbey Island (SISWI) is seeking applicants for its $1,000 “Live Your Dream” scholarship. With a deadline of November 15, women who are the primary support for their families and enrolled in college or vocational training, are encouraged to apply.

Dedicated to helping women and girls reach their potential through education, the South Island non-profit sponsors the “”Live Your Dream” scholarship for head-of-household women. SISWI has also sponsored “Dream It Be it Career Support” programs for girls, providing tools senior high school girls need to achieve their education and career goals and break the cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse. 

Kaitlyn Broyles, in red skirt, received a SISWI scholarship in 2019. Photo shared by Terry Welch

The Live Your Dream award provides women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families with the financial resources to offset costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or additional skills and training. Recipients can use the award for tuition, books, childcare, carfare or any other education-related expense. Each year, over $2.5 million is provided in cash grants to women in need. Since the program’s inception in 1972, more than $30 million has helped tens of thousands of women achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families—leading to stronger communities. The Live Your Dream Award starts at the club level where award amounts vary. Soroptimist International of South Whidbey Island will provide a $1000 award. Club-level recipients then become eligible for regional level awards granted in each of Soroptimist’s 28 regions. The first-place region recipients then become candidates for one of three $10,000 finalist awards.

Retired middle school science teacher, volunteer EMT, and good friend Terry Welch recently joined SISWI and suggested an article about the scholarship. When Terry asks me to do something, I gladly agree. She is a great person who is gives her time to important community support groups.

“I love this award,” Terry wrote in an email, “especially when we can mentor the recipient.”

Terry and I met recently with Nancy Thompson, SISWI chair for the past few years. Nancy is a retired Plastic Surgery nurse and currently owns Dancing Fish Vineyards with her husband Brad Thompson.

Nancy mentioned a successful fundraiser, “Shred,” last August in which folks bring in paper that needs shredding—paying $10 a box and $5 a bag. “We earned $3,000,” Nancy said.  “With the Live Your Dream award, we’re putting the word out to the community to send us applicants.”

Previous recipients: Kaitlyn, a single mom of two small children who won a scholarship in 2019, and Elizabeth, a woman who is continuing her education and is head of her household who was awarded the 2018 scholarship. The women were contacted for comment but did not respond by press time.

Why support education for women and girls? On its Live Your Dream webpage SISWI notes: “Did you know that in 1948, the United Nations declared basic education to be a fundamental human right? Despite that, 16 percent of the world’s population lack basic literacy skills – two-thirds of these are women? Did you know that lack of education increases a woman’s chances of living in poverty, being effected by violence, becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and dying in childbirth?

“When women have access to education, the positive effects are seen, not just for the women, but for their families and communities as well. Educated women are more likely to enter the formal labor market, earning higher wages than informal or home-based work. Educated women learn what they can do to stay healthy. Educated women are more likely to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies. She will less likely marry and begin to bear children at an early age, improving her chances for healthier pregnancies and babies. Educated women are also more likely to ensure that their children receive an education.”

Soroptimist International has more than 72,000 members in 121 countries worldwide which work  toward improving the lives of women and girls.

SISWI meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month via Zoom. To learn more, visit this site.

More links to the Live Your Dream application can be found here: or by contacting Nancy Thompson at


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