Women in the spotlight

SOWINS Women Front and Centre Awards recognize the achievements of community’s female role models

Female role models were recognized at the South Okanagan Women In Need Society Women Front and Centre Awards on the weekend.

“A lot of women go along doing their work, unsung heroes if you want to call them that. These are women who inspire and work as role models,” said Maimie De Silva, SOWINS board director.

Close to 250 people attend the gala, which is also SOWINS’ only fundraiser during the year.

“It’s a two-fold event. It’s our fundraiser, but at the same time we get the chance to celebrate the women in our communities. We try and tie this into International Women’s Day which is March 8 this year. The whole idea behind that is celebrating the diverse women in our communities,” said De Silva.

Joy Pinney received the lifetime achievement award for the work she has done with Quota International. She brought the organization to life in Penticton 28 years ago as area director of Canada, when she moved to the city from Lethbridge. Pinney has assisted in the raising of $500,000 by Quota International of Penticton for projects in the South Okanagan and underdeveloped countries.

“It is just amazing and such an honour to be nominated, especially when you look at the women in the other categories. They are so inspiring,” said Pinney of winning the award. “We have so many amazing women in Quota and have met so many great people from other clubs.”

Pinney said the Penticton chapter is rare in that it encapsulates three generations, with her daughter and granddaughter also Quota members.

“She is the woman who I aspire to be,” said Pinney’s granddaughter Chelsea Blackwell. “I hope one day to connect with people and touch people’s lives in the way that I have seen her do time and time again. When it comes to love and understanding, she leads by example and she believes that there is no one who is undeserving of her love.”

The Quota members are seen in the community working the pancake breakfast every Canada Day, working for disadvantaged women and children, raising funds and awareness for those hard of hearing and speech impaired, offering free dental clinics and other community services.

They also have an ongoing project called Cups for the Cure, designed to promote breast cancer awareness and a breast cancer recovery assistance fund. Pinney was noted as being instrumental in fundraising $35,000 for the infant hearing screening program at the Penticton Regional Hospital and in helping the OSNS child development centre.

“Joy truly has an essence of community spirit; she is always so willing to share her time and energy to facilitate the betterment of our community. She truly makes a difference to OSNS Child Development Centre and the Infant Hearing Screening program,” said Judy Sentes, executive director of the OSNS child development centre.

Other SOWINS winners included: Gillian Russell, arts; Wendy Williams, health and wellness; Jade Loan, excellence in instruction; Amanda Lewis, volunteerism; Nikita Afonso, young leader; Rita Chretien and Caroline Hild, courage; Michou Szabo, excellence in service/doing a great job; Dianne McEvoy, finance, entrepreneur and business; Southern Swoop seniors ladies slo-pitch softball team, sports; and Connie Denesiuk, community contribution.