SOWINS shines spotlight on women’s achievement

Outstanding women from Osoyoos, Naramata, Summerland and Penticton were honoured Saturday during the sixth annual Women Front and Centre Awards Dinner and Gala.

Outstanding women from Osoyoos, Naramata, Summerland and Penticton were honoured Saturday during the sixth annual Women Front and Centre Awards Dinner and Gala.

The event is a fundraiser for the South Okanagan Women in Need Society, a non-profit society that provides services for abused women and their children.

This year’s four recipients of the new Courage category — Syl Blanchard, Vareia Green, Darlene Gruetzbach and Amanda Harris — brought the mixed crowd of 300 men and women to their feet in a spontaneous standing ovation in recognition of each of their personal battles with extreme adversity.

“Every person is different when it comes to facing fears,” said co-emcee Bob Nicholson, a former Calgary CBC TV anchor, in announcing the submissions. “What is daunting to one, may not be daunting to another. But no one can argue with the challenges these gals have faced.”

The evening marked the 30th anniversary to the day of SOWINS’ incorporation in 1981, and celebrated community support by men as well as women over the years in promoting healthy relationships between the sexes.

Olympian Kristi Richards, who hails from Summerland, was named this year’s winner in the Sports category. Her award was accepted on her behalf by her mother.

Forty-nine women were nominated in 12 categories ranging from arts, sports and non-traditional trades to business, customer service,  health, education, community work, volunteerism, young leader, and lifetime achievement.

Winners in the various categories are: Trades — Rishia McDowell of Penticton; Arts — Tracy Fehr of Summerland; Young Leader — Camelia Vokey of Penticton; Finance, Entrepreneur, Business — Andrea Robertson of Penticton; Health and Wellness — Connie Kiefiuk of Naramata; Excellence in Instruction — Kathy Pierre of Penticton; Excellence in Service — Dale Belvedere of Summerland; Volunteerism — Lauraine Bailie of Penticton; Community Contribution — Frances Sologuk of Osoyoos; and Lifetime Achievement — Wendy Binggeli of Penticton.