Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Johnson County Women of Distinction

Wendi Buggi * Velda Koehler * Sally Hutt

Building on our success from 2014 we gathered to plan for Year Two.  We shuttled all over Johnson County, Nebraska to distribute Nomination Forms to people in every town...we got a bit of coverage from the Tecumseh Chieftain as well as the Beatrice Daily Sun!  Of course we posted updates on Facebook too!

Because our SENCA office location was so small for what we hoped would be a growing crowd, we opted to rent the historic Community Building on the village square.  Not having air conditioning had us hoping for cool weather.  At least there were fans to keep the air moving and the amplification system was in place.

We chose the theme: "Johnson County Women are the Keys to the Past, Present and Future" and the decorated tables carried that out with canning jars filled with red and blue marbles (SENCA's signature colors) holding tiny keys hanging from branches.  The table cloths were red or blue and scattered across all of them were keys, watches, clocks--every type of timepiece.

As the guests arrived they signed our guest book and a young volunteer escorted them to their seats.  They were further welcomed by platters of bars and cookies as well as pitchers of icy water on each table.

The radio format was followed again but this time it was broadcast from 'The Poverty Network, 57 on the FM radio dial'...57 came from the Johnson County license plate.  We featured commercials again, this time with a little girl, Ava Buggi, helped by her mommy, who carried the SENCA banner as well as posters with ads for volunteers.  They acted out each commercial for Cooking Classes, Meals on Wheels and other SENCA programs.  The audience seemed to enjoy seeing Ava and taking in her personality, especially when she interrupted me and whispered in my ear that it was time for the Outreach Worker, Terri Brethouwer, to take her place at the podium.

Those who sit on the Advisory Board were introduced: Rev Jason Wolter, Rev Eric Biehl, Ann Curry, Judy Coe, Kevin VanLanningham, Cortney Brown  and yours truly. *The board members wore blue stoles; the 2014 winners were  given red stoles to wear.  We also were thrilled to welcome the Executive Director for SENCA, Vicky McNealy and her sidekick, Pam Armknecht, who oversees the Community Outreach Workers.

Our brilliant and sparkly Keynote Speaker was Anita Lewandowski Brown, former Executive Director of the Grand Island YWCA .  Anita was accompanied by her husband, Ralph P. Brown.  Anita spoke about her experience with the Grand Island event and she sprinkled stories throughout her talk.  She brought a visual that was displayed below the stage reading, "Believe There Is Good In the World"  [sic: Be The Good In the World.]  Ralph drew from his Mohawk Indian upbringing by  drumming and singing the Honor Song for Women.  It was a very moving moment in the event.

We had another speaker who was a 2014 Candidate in Grand Island:  Debra Rakosky gave a lovely talk, sharing what it had meant to her to be a part of the annual Grand Island event.  Debra was nominated for Woman of Courage and was given a glass starfish to remember the occasion and her nomination.

Gifts for our speakers and a special helper were original art pieces created  on canvasses by Rev Eric Biehl.

Again there were three categories and the nominations came from every town and village in Johnson County!  Each candidate was introduced, as was the woman or women who made the nomination.  A tidbit  about each one was shared so people who may not know these women would understand who they are and why they were nominated.

Each candidate's entry was judged by people from out of Johnson County so the judging would be fair and unbiased.  Some of the nominations from 2014 were brought forth by the board once again because of their merit.

The winners of each category, pictured above, are as follows:
Woman of Courage  -  Sally Hutt
Young Woman of Achievement  -  Wendi Buggi
Johnson County Woman of Distinction  -  Velda Koehler

Following our program, the attendees were invited to mingle and meet n greet the winners and their families.  Dustin Buggi favored us with background music.

SO MANY PEOPLE helped to make this event successful.  If we mention them all it will fill up the Ethernet!  Here are a few who made it all happen:  Jody Schultz, Dustin, Wendi and Ava Buggi, Joy Robison, Lois McClintock, Norman Baum.  SENCA salutes each of you.

Next up:  The Johnson County Fair Parade!  Our Woman from two years have been invited to ride on an entry with signs and banners touting the women and their sponsoring agency, SENCA
HI! HO!  COME TO THE FAIR!  **Let's hope those pictures will be good enough to share here!

We are up to our elbows in plans for 2016!  Look for more categories, more entertainment more  entries, more honoring our peers and way more fun!  After all, Johnson County Women are the Keys to the Past, Present and Future! 

Connie Baum
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Women of Distinction: The Maiden Event of 2014

Devon Roesner, Dr. Joan Christen, Kesha Beethe

Early  in 2014 I received a notice that women in Grand Island, Nebraska were being honored at at event hosted by their local YWCA.  I knew I wanted to nominate someone so I made a nomination and in return I got a letter inviting me to join my candidate for the grand dinner event.

We both attended; she brought her mother in law, too.  It was quite the gala occasion where women of every age had been nominated by their peers, their families, their friends.  There were gifts for each nominee and awards for the winners of each category:  Woman of Courage, Young Woman of Achievement and Woman of Distinction.  The photos of the Women of Distinction line the walls of the YWCA's building.

As I saw how each candidate's heart was touched I thought, "We need to do this in Johnson County Nebraska!"

It is my good fortune to sit on the Johnson County Advisory Board for SENCA-- South East Community Action in Tecumseh.  I met with Terri Brethouwer, our outreach worker, and her immediate response was to look at the calender for 2014.  She noted that Friendship Day falls on the first Sunday of August.  She looked up from the calendar and said, "Let's do it!"

So we DID.  We had no clue what we would do or how to get it done so we begged the YWCA director, Anita Lewandowski Brown for information.  She was gracious enough to send us all their forms and a page full of ideas they had tried successfully.

Some 60 curious people crammed into the SENCA building for our maiden event on Friendship Day, August 1, 2014.  We had a handful of candidates, their nominators, some family members,  We even had Vicky McNealy,  Executive Director of SENCA from the home office at Humboldt, Ne.  She was accompanied by Pam Armknecht, who is the Community Services Director.

Teen aged girls dressed in their prom gowns served bars and fruit that had been prepared by the woman who prepares the Senior meals at the Center, Loretta Pope.  Jacob Schultz favored us with some musical solos.

A radio show format was adopted.  'The Poverty Network' carried the show on their waves;  the call letters were SENCA , 1700 on the radio dial.  'Commercials' were sprinkled throughout to educate people about SENCA and all the programs they offer. The guests heard, "SENCA is helping people, changing lives" until they remembered and believed it!

It was determined that SENCA people were ineligible for awards but we bent that rule when we heard about a way we could make a special award for one of our Board members.  Ann Curry's family had a tragedy and from that sadness came a wonderful foundation that helps with children who have been traumatized by accidents or illness.  Because of  the Aiden's Animals foundation we gave Ann a stuffed elephant and the mother of the child they lost from an accident talked about the foundation and the work they do.

Every candidate got a miniature, hand carved onyx elephant.  We will never forget the event! The candidates will always remember, too!

2014's Johnson County winners were Devon Roesner, Woman of Courage; Kesha Beethe, Young Woman of Achievement and Dr. Joan Christen was Woman of Distinction.  Each woman received an award with their name and the date engraved on it.

We had so much fun that we determined we would build on that success.  We'll tell you all about what transpired in 2015 in the very next post!

Connie Baum
The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.