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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