Scholarships for kids of workers injured or killed on the job

Bob Shiprack, president of Kids’ Chance of Oregon, presents scholarship awards to Zsofika Wigney (left) and twins Kayla and Randi Johnston.

Kids’ Chance of Oregon, a two-year-old nonprofit that provides post-secondary and trade school scholarships to children of Oregon workers who have been severely or fatally injured in a workplace accident, handed out scholarships Sept. 16 at McMenamin’s Kennedy School. The scholarship recipients were Zsofika Wigney and twins Kayla and Randi Johnston.

Wigney, who has Tourette’s syndrome and aspergers, lost her father to a workplace accident in 2012. She attends Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, and plans to go to medical school to someday work as a geriatric physician. She received a $14,000 scholarship.

Randi and Kayla are repeat Kids’ Chance scholarship recipients.  They were five when their father was killed in a job-related accident. Both are studying business management at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington, and both plan to attend Oregon State University next year. They received $1,200 and $1,400 scholarships, respectively.

Oregon is the 27th state with a Kids’ Chance chapter. Its board of directors is made up primarily of professionals with experience in workers’ compensation-related industries. Labor is represented on the 12-member board by Bob Shiprack, a retired executive director of the Oregon State Building Trades Council, and Bob Tackett, executive secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. Other notables on the board are Nelson Hall, a labor attorney at Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan, and Jennifer Flood, State of Oregon ombudsmen for injured workers.

More than 100 people attended the Sept. 16 scholarship awards ceremony, which also doubled as a fundraiser for the organization. Among the guest speakers was Kevin Jensen, a retired business manager of Iron Workers Local 29. Jensen serves on the board of SAIF Corp., Oregon’s not-for-profit, state-chartered workers’ compensation insurance company.

“It hurts to lose a parent at any age, but when a young person loses a parent,  or a parent is critically injured, it can be devastating,” Jensen said. “These scholarships can help provide some stability, by providing some financial support to attend college or a trade school.”

Jensen and Shiprack encourage Oregon labor unions to become more involved in Kids’ Chance of Oregon and to help raise funds for future scholarships.

For more information about Kids’ Chance of Oregon, visit their website at

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