September 16, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE Three local women are raising funds to go to Russia next August to assist in an Eastern Oregon University project at the Childrens School for the Deaf and Blind.

The school in Sergiev Posad is extremely poor and gets little government funding, said Lynn Doherty of Enterprise.

Most of the students, ranging in age from 18 months to 24 years, do not have families. At 24, students can no longer stay at the school. The few with families who can take them are sent home, according to Doherty, but most of the children dont have that option and are placed in a mental institution. Many were abandoned children, and Russia does not have provisions for the handicapped.

The project to help the school was started by Verl Anderson, who taught at Eastern.

The assistance program uses the advising and consulting knowledge of the graduating business students to establish a small business that would enable the Russian graduates to function in their society rather than being placed in an institution.

The school has 142 students and a staff of about 150. The students disabilities requires intensive, almost one-on-one care, Doherty said.

Doherty, along with Andrea Martin and Jodi Burgess of Wallowa, hope to accompany a group of senior business students to the Russian school.

Until Anderson took 62 blankets to the school, there were no blankets on the cots for the children, she said. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo were rare there as well.

These and other donated items were included in hygiene kits provided by Andersons group. They also delivered towels, clothing, stuffed animals, toys and several computers.

There was no water in the swimming pool, because the school cannot afford the pool maintenance expenses.

The schools roof is in bad shape. Water leaks have damaged the lights and electrical system, and have destroyed the computer room and computers.

Anderson has raised $1,100 toward a goal of $2,500 that the Marriott Hotel area humanitarian director for Eastern Europe said his corporation would match.

Last year the school built a dormitory to house graduates in preparation for their being involved in the small business that Eastern helped to set up.

Doherty is a senior at Eastern working on a bachelor of liberal studies degree with minors in business and philosophy.

She obtained her associate of science degree in June and was selected as the Outstanding Student in the Office Administration Program. All this has been accomplished while working full-time. Doherty is a trainer and office support specialist at the Training and Employment Consortium in Enterprise. She carries her full-time student class load through Easterns Distance Learning Education Program.

Jodi Burgess is a senior at Eastern working on her bachelors degree through the Distance Education Program. She is a mother of four and is Lostines city recorder. For both Burgess and Doherty, the Russian trip and project will be the capstone requirement for their degrees.

Andrea Martin is a junior at Wallowa High School, where students are required to complete a senior project. The subject of Martins project will be Education for Special Needs Students.

Martin is an honor-roll student. She is active in the National Honor Society, FBLA, VICA and sports. Martin was the 2001 president of her 4-H Golden Arrow Livestock Club.

The fee for each to participate in the trip is $2,500 for airfare, ground transportation, meals and other expenses. Doherty has been awarded a $1,500 Rural American Scholarship toward her expenses.

Doherty, Burgess and Martin are working to raise funds, including a bake sale that was held at the Enterprise Safeway Saturday. Raffle tickets were sold for donated prizes that include a limited edition art print from Gail Wolfe, two blown glass pieces from Russell Ford and a Pendleton blanket donated by Diane Highberger, administrator of Easterns Enterprise office.

On Saturday the women will have a car wash at the Enterprise Elks Lodge.

Sept. 29-30 they will have a yard sale at Martins parents home, Charlie and Dodie McDaniel on Highway 82 at Wallowas east city limits.

For information, call Martin at 886-4004, Burgess at 886-5014, or Doherty at 426-3681.