Keturah Johns of Lewiston hasn’t had an easy life.
Her parents died when she was very young. She spent several years addicted to drugs. Her son, Layton, was born with Hirschprung’s, a condition of the large intestine (colon) that causes difficulty passing stool.
Her life was brightened considerably last week when the Soroptimist International of Wallowa County presented her with its Live Your Dream Award.
The $2,000 grant is given annually to a woman who is head of household pursuing a college degree. It also comes with a hefty gift certificate for use in the club’s thrift store in downtown Enterprise.
Normally the award goes to a Wallowa County resident; however, this year no one residing in the county applied, according to Carolyn Gilbert, a spokesman for the nonprofit, volunteer service organization.
The club learned of Johns’ application through the Soroptmist’s hierarchy. Impressed with her application, they made the selection, which was announced Feb. 8 at a luncheon at Wallowa Memorial Hospital Cafeteria.
Keturah and Layton traveled to Enterprise to receive the award.
“My past does not define me,” Johns told the club gathering. “I am so fortunate to be here today.”
Because of Layton’s myriad health issues, the two have spent a good deal of time in hospitals. Impressed with the dedication of the staff that surrounded them, she decided to pursue a degree in nursing.
She attends the Walla Walla Community College School of Nursing in Clarkston, Wash. She is active in New Spring Missionary Baptist Church in Lewiston.
Although given little chance of surviving hours after birth, Layton has grown to be a typical two-year-old, active and mischievous, Johns said. He has only recently begun eating solid food and is enjoying the experience immensely.
Johns said the Soroptimist money would go toward a variety of bills a single mother encounters monthly, including daycare. This was the first scholarship she has received for higher education.
Johns will also have a shot at another Soroptimist grant in regional competition in April. That check could range from $1,000 to $5,000, according to club president Beth Hough.
“We are so thrilled to have found Keturah and Layton,” Hough said. “She is an incredibly strong woman.”