Celebrating the extraordinary efforts and achievements of local women was the focus of an event hosted by Soroptimist International of Central Alberta on Thursday.
The annual International Women’s Day Awards were held at the Radisson Hotel in Red Deer, with roughly 60 people in attendance.
The event featured a guest speaker from Red Feather Women and the presentation of four awards honouring local women who have overcome great obstacles while achieving significant accomplishments to better their lives and the lives of others.
Sylvia Bouteiller, President, Soroptimist International of Central Alberta, says the event is a great way to encourage women to continue giving back to their communities.
“To continue all the good work and helping all women in all walks of life no matter where they are,” adds Bouteiller.
The ‘Ruby Award: Women helping Women’ was presented to Lizzy Walker, a Social Media Manager for local and international businesses. She has been described as always there to help any woman who needs it, running her own Facebook page, taking humanitarian aid to Mexico each year and cooking food for the homeless among other contributions to women in the community.
“I was very surprised and very pleased obviously,” recalls Walker. “It’s such an honour really because it’s been given to me by the Soroptimist of Central Alberta and of course it’s International Women’s Day.”
Walker adds, “We’re very lucky in central Alberta, we’ve got lots of services and resources that we can call upon here for women in need. But I also think that volunteering and helping and supporting and fundraising goes an awful long way because there’s still so much more that we can do for the community.”
The first ‘Live your Dream Award’ was presented to Lindsey Riley of Penhold, a single mother of two attending RDC to obtain her Bachelor of Science Nursing. Riley says receiving the award is very humbling.
“It’s interesting that you don’t really understand how your experiences with adversity play into the big picture and can encourage other people,” explains Riley. “You can do anything you set your mind to no matter what comes up, you just kind of put one foot in front of the other and carry on.”
The second ‘Live your Dream Award’ was presented to Frederique Ouellet of Red Deer, a single mother of four attending RDC to obtain a Bachelor of Education.
“I was working full-time, four kids, not sleeping at night, two or three hours sometimes in between work and school” reveals Ouellet. “Now I’m full-time in school, not working and trying to balance everything between the kids.”
Ouellet says the award makes her feel amazing and urges other women in similar circumstances to never give up.
“Life is such you’ve just got to keep going when you can,” says Ouellet. “Otherwise you pick yourself up and you go again. It’s never easy, we all fight and we all wait for something.”
The ‘Violet Richardson Award’ presented to young female volunteers was given to Brynne Takhar of Sylvan Lake who attends H.J. Cody School. Takhar is described as very active in the school’s Interact Club and is very passionate about volunteering and fundraising both locally and globally.
“I’m honoured and so excited to see what this organization can teach me,” exclaimed Takhar. “I’ve learned so much about just myself and what I enjoy doing but also how I can give back to the world and make a difference and how important that is. I’ve learned so much about what women empowering other women can do and what women are capable of given the chance.”
Sorpotimist International is a women’s organization that goes to great lengths to promote concerns, challenges and achievements of women everywhere.
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