Woodward, Okla. —
For years now, the Woodward Elks Ladies have made it their mission to leave the community better than they found it.
So its no surprise that during a time when everyone else is making cuts, the Woodward Elks Ladies are rolling out a bigger and more comprehensive scholarship program, said program organizer Lola Ward.
According to Ward, the Woodward Ladies Elks Scholarship Program, a $500 semester by semester endowment, is well over 40 years-old.
In the past, the program targeted displaced homemakers who needed to extend their educations to better provide for their families, she said.
Now, not only will the program cover displaced homemakers, but a second tier program will also be extended to a graduating senior each year, Ward said.
A perfect example of how the program impacts local recipients, couldn't be better represented than by 25-year-old Heather Gunn of Seiling.
Gunn won her scholarship through the Elks Ladies last fall.
She applied as a part of the displaced homemaker program, when she realized she was in an unhealthy marriage and knew she needed to get out and find a way to care for herself and her daughter Hailee, she said.
Gunn was accepted into the Woodward Elks Ladies Scholarship Program in August. She received her first payment after completing her first semester in December.
The money has helped the single mother be able to afford to attend school at High Plains Technology Center in Woodward. She hopes to become a medical assistant.
"I live in Seiling and the money has helped me pay for gas to get here to school," she said.
Later, Gunn plans to attend either Northwestern Oklahoma State University or Northern Oklahoma College to work toward becoming a nurse midwife, she said.
But perhaps the most telling difference that a simple $500 scholarship can make is not in what people say about it, but what they do with it.