Women from across the South Okanagan were recognized for their passion and dedication to the community at the eighth annual Women Front and Centre Gala held on Saturday.
The Arts, Culture and Design winner was Thea Haubrich. Haubrich has created a large network of people interested in Encaustic art by organizing workshops and demos, exhibitions, writing newsletters, blogging and more. The artist battled breast cancer in 2011 and suffered a stroke in the summer of 2012.
Deborah O’Mara won the Community Building award. Hard-working, highly intelligent, extremely humble and down to earth were some of the words on Saturday used to describe her. O’Mara has raised significant money for charity, seeking positive change in the community through organizations such as the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan.
The Education, Training and Development award went to Traci Fladager, who is a program co-ordinator with the Dragonfly Pond Family Society, a non-profit society that provides programs and services for children with disabilities and complex care needs. Fladager creates an inspirational setting of empowerment and joy for countless families.
The Health, Wellness and Active Living award was given to Greta Henning who is a public health worker that has joined forces with other doctors in the community to provide free clinics for dental, chiropractic and now hearing testing for children. She has devoted countless volunteer hours as president of the Penticton Chapter of Quota Club and Henning Emergency Clinic of Kindness Society.
The Non-Profit or Public Sector award went to Jacqueline Farebrother, supervisor for the Hand in Hand Infant/Toddler centre located at Pen High. This centre provides child care for infants and toddlers up to three years old, whose parents are enrolled at Pen High, Okanagan College or other training institutions.
The Entrepreneur award went to Georgina Dumont who is a role model for women who wish to start their own successful enterprise. Through her businesses, Happy Healthy Homes and You Bet We Can Business Solutions, she is known for thinking outside the box and assisting other business and organizations. Dumont also volunteers with Habitat For Humanity and is a board member of Giving Others A Boost.
Young Leader went to The Esteem Team from Get Bent Active Arts Society (Celine Blais, Emily Bussinger, Nicole Chickloski and Elaina Collis). This team of 15 to 17-year-olds speak out on socially relevant topics such as bullying, body image and self esteem through workshops for their peers.
The Courage awards were handed out to Kellie Wesley and Veronika Schrank. Wesley donated a kidney to family friend, Terry Folkestad, who has a rare blood type and whose quality of life was suffering from polycystic kidney disease. With her youngest son about to be deployed to Afghanistan on his first tour, Wesley laid in a hospital bed about to donate one of her kidneys.
Schrank was called a “testament to courage and determination” on Saturday, turning her personal tragedy into a journey of self-empowerment. One year ago her husband died from a rare form of cancer and she went from being a full-time mother of four children (ages three to nine) to suddenly becoming the sole supporter. Schrank enrolled to become a licensed practical care nurse and dreams of one day joining Doctors Without Borders. Her choice to focus on the positive rather than the loss shows her courage.
Funds from the gala will contribute to programs for theSouth Okanagan Women In Need Society to go towards women and children who have experienced or are at risk of violence or abuse. SOWINS provides both residential and non-residential services that require them to raise about $200,000 a year to run. The society helps 35 to 50 women per year overcome abuse.