SOU President's Medalists, 2007
"We both came from humble backgrounds," says Sherm Olsrud about himself and his wife, Wanda. "We appreciate everything we have. It's nice to share it."
"When we first came to this area, we couldn't afford to help," says Wanda. "As we became more successful, we wanted to give back."
They've been giving back for forty years. The Olsruds—owners of Sherm's Thunderbird Market and Food 4 Less in Medford, as well as grocery stores in Roseburg and Klamath Falls—have been quietly supporting good causes in southern Oregon since they moved to the Rogue Valley in 1967.
Among the good works the Olsruds support are student scholarships at Southern Oregon University. "As time goes by, our society demands educated people," says Sherm. "Our country needs educated people."
Currently, eleven students are attending SOU with the help of the Olsruds. Past recipients include a Marine Corps veteran, a single mother who had escaped an abusive marriage, and a valedictorian who had given up hope of attending college.
The Olsruds' generous support also extends to the Future Farmers of America, 4H, Kids Unlimited, La Clinica del Valle, the Rogue Valley Medical Center, and ACCESS, Inc. And when Sherm's Thunderbird store received a share of the proceeds for selling a winning Powerball ticket a few years ago, Sherm donated the funds to Jackson and Washington elementary schools because, as Sherm said at the time, "we felt those two schools could use it."
Southern Oregon could use more couples like the Olsruds, too.