Congratulations to Karen Drescher, 2021 Distinguished Service Award Recipient! Karen’s tenure on the board began in 2013.
As a retired registered nurse, she knew how important it was to ensure the health and well-being of the community. In addition to chairing the development committee, she is currently chair of the Evans Nursing Scholarship selection committee.
“To receive this award is really a great honor since I know and respect so many of the past recipients,” Karen said. “We’ve had such a who’s who of dedicated and impactful honorees over the years, I feel as though I’m in very good company!”
Karen has embraced the foundation’s expanded focus on innovative and equitable approaches to community health and wellness throughout the Ashland, Talent, and Phoenix communities. “The last two years have ushered in huge changes for the foundation. These were very challenging times but also rewarding,” Karen recalls. “We turned the challenges into opportunities to expand our focus to benefit a broader community.”
Chairing the Evans Scholarship committee this year, Karen calls it a “20-year success story”—and rightly so. This year’s scholarships will bring the 20-year total to more than $1 million awarded. “These important scholarships help ensure that health care professionals are there for you when you need them by providing a pathway to success, especially for those who would otherwise not be able to achieve their dreams,” she says.
The William G. and Ruth T. Evans Endowed Nursing Scholarship annually awards scholarships to students pursuing registered nursing degrees at Oregon Health Science University at Southern Oregon University or at Rogue Community College (RCC) who intend to work in the Rogue Valley after graduation. Karen personally relates to the scholarship recipients: she obtained her degree from Southern Oregon College, now Southern Oregon University, and her first RN position was in the Rogue Valley.
Also chair of the ACHF development committee, Karen is deeply involved in the annual Patrons Campaign, which focuses on the most pressing health care needs of our community. This year’s campaign is closely aligned with the Evans scholarships.
“This year, we’re partnering with RCC to provide scholarships to local students pursuing entry-level careers in health care—medical assistants, dental assistants, pharmacy technicians, and phlebotomists. These allied health programs will help people get into the workforce and at the patient’s side within a matter of months,” she explains.
Although Karen has chaired the development committee for many years, this year was particularly exciting. “This year, we were able to act upon our expanded mission and granted more than $225,000 to community organizations.”
“It was inspiring to be present when we awarded grants to these organizations. I loved seeing the enthusiasm of the grantees. They are so invested in their missions, and we are so honored to help them achieve their goals,” she said. “These locally-based programs show the strength of our region, and it’s extremely rewarding to fulfill our mission to generate and invest resources to improve the health of our community.”
Karen also enjoys connecting with donors—as board members do—by calling and writing to thank them for their gifts. “Our donors help us do the good work that we value. As a board, we have such a passion for community health and wellness, and the growth in the foundation is helping us achieve our mission,” Karen smiles. “Challenge opens opportunities – we can do more good work with the support of our donors.
The work of the board and especially the staff is to be applauded. The staff is phenomenal—they’re the heart and soul of the foundation—and they help us come together to do the work.”
ACHF Executive Director Janet Troy shares, “Our board members and volunteers give their time and talents freely to help improve the well-being of our community. These individuals bring their varied skills and experiences to the foundation and thoughtfully participate in its governance and guidance. The dedication of our board is how we can fulfill our mission of investing resources to improve the health of our Ashland, Talent, and Phoenix communities.”
The Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals when their service to the community through our foundation has been clearly distinguished by length, intensity, devotion, and significant accomplishment. The foundation has a special place in their hearts, and their work has resulted in significant accomplishments for ACHF and its mission. Thank you and congratulations, Karen!