The 10th annual Women of Excellence Awards Gala, held at the Sheraton Hotel Wednesday night, saw hundreds come out to show their support for exceptional women from across Alberta who show incredible efforts in their communities.
The event celebrated 25 exceptional women, with 12 award recipients.
“All amazing and awe-inspiring. This is our 10th year so this is our diamond anniversary and I’ve seen it every year, and I promise you, you will not leave this room without either crying or laughing, you will not leave this room uninspired because of the amazing stories of these women,” said CEO of Red Deer & District Community Foundation Kristine Bugayong.
She said the Women of Excellence Program serves as a platform for amplifying the exemplary contributions of women in the community.
Over the last 10 years, she said, they’ve honoured 220 women. And those women are selected by a rigorous progress, she added.
“We put out a call for nominations to the public and the nominators heed the call, as well as organize a selection or what we call an adjudication committee, comprised of women leaders in our community and I must say this year the adjudication committee is comprised of all Life Time Achievement Awardees.”
She added, the committee then receives the packages shortly after the nominations close and they go through them carefully and rank them on a 15 point scale.
“The committee then meets and selects the roster of recipients,” said Bugayong.
The big award of the night was the Lifetime Achievement Award which was won by Nora Styner of Red Deer.
An example of a highly committed community volunteer, Styner has volunteered for 25 years with the Link to Health Program and for 40 years at the Red Deer Hospital.
She also happened to be the award recipient in the Athletics, Recreation and Fitness category.
“The exercise program I joined in the early 80s was a Red Cross Program,” she said.
The name of it was later changed to Link to Health, with the program being updated.
In 2016 they became a satellite program for the Golden Circle.
“This program is for seniors over 60 who want to keep active. We have a group of over 40 women. Our age group is 70-plus with most of us pushing 80. We have two women over 90 that come all the time.”
She said they have people with heart problems, back problems, some walk with canes and one of the ladies is on oxygen, but they all come to exercise.
In winning her big award at the end of the evening she thanked her family and husband.
“I guess I’m a born volunteer. This was part of my mom’s life was volunteering,” she said.
One of the more emotional award recipients came under the Education and Training award category, with recently deceased recipient Dorothy ‘Dot’ Negropontes of Olds, winning the award.
Her son, John accepted it on her behalf.
“Mom was never one to seek out the limelight but I’m sure she would have been tickled pink to be receiving this award and would also be honoured to be counted among all of the nominees and recipients both past and present,” he said.
Kath Hoffman, the award recipient for Human Services said she gave the word excellence some thought, doing a bit of research into it.
“I have the good fortune to witness un-ordinary acts of excellence almost daily. I have an outstanding staff at Safe Harbour who have the capacity in the hearts to genuinely welcome people whom others can’t. They do it consistently even when they don’t feel like it, they go above and beyond what is necessary,” she said.
“I see parents who are aching for their lost children trying so hard to hang on as they fight their way through the madness of addiction and that is excellence. I see an ever growing community that is shining their lights into Safe Harbour, they want to help us make a difference by offering spaces of welcoming connection to our most vulnerable stigmatized citizens, and that’s excellence.”
Her level of excellence, she said, is in direct proportion to the love and support that’s around her.
Other award recipients included Agriculture – Tracy Gardner; Arts, Culture and Heritage – Diana Anderson; Business and the Professions – Janice Wing; Community Building – Susan Samson; Entrepreneurship – Bonnee Gregg and Krista Vandenbrink, Environment – Nicola Cook; Health and Wellness – Katharine Kemmere and Young Woman of Excellence – Lucienne Henry.