FREEPORT — When Kathleen Harlow lost her job at L.L. Bean after 13 years, she decided to go back to school and improve her life.

As a single mother living in Pownal, she wanted to further her education, but found paying for books and classes while providing for her two daughters to be difficult.

When Sue Mack, family services coordinator at the Freeport Community Center, told Harlow about the Freeport Woman’s Club STEP UP grant, she decided to apply. 

The $500 grant is given to a Freeport or Pownal woman who wants to get training but has financial needs, said Virgina Boyles, membership coordinator of the Women’s Club.

“One of our members thought it would be a great idea to give a scholarship to a single mother  who is trying to better herself through education,” she said. “This year, Kathleen was a great fit. It was a pleasure giving her the award.”

The grant is awarded based on the financial needs, educational goals and aspirations, and references.

“I was surprised and flattered to find out I won the grant,” Harlow said. “I am the by-product of this bad economy, and want people to know how much I appreciate the help.”

Last semester, Harlow was accepted into the medical assistant program at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. She said her two daughters excel in school and receive the highest marks.

“I am inspired by my daughters to push myself and be the best I can be,” she said. “I am determined to give my life more depth.”

Harlow said she has attended a Women’s Club meeting, and may join the group after a few more meetings.

“We were so pleased to give Kathleen the award,” Boyles said. “She is a totally upbeat person and we are happy to help.”

She said interested applicants for next year’s grant can apply through several local service organizations, including the Rotary, Lions and Lionness clubs, Freeport Community Services, Casco Bay YMCA, Masons and the high school.

For more information on the grant or to attend a meeting, call Boyles at 865-3973.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]

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