South Peninsula Haven House is currently seeking nominations for its 21st annual Women of Distinction awards, celebrating strong and inspirational women in the community. The organization’s largest and most important fundraiser and outreach event takes place on March 27th, with nominations due on Monday, March 2nd.
The awards include three categories – Woman of Distinction, Woman of Wisdom and Young Woman of Distinction. Janie Leask, Sherry Stead and Kathy Robinson are Haven House board members. Robinson says that Women of Distinction are mentors who give back to the community.
“They are just great role models for young women and what they bring to our community and what they have brought to our community for years. It’s a great way to honor them,” said Robinson.
Previous Woman of Distinction honorees have included Eleanor McMullen, Donna Fenske, Carmen Field, Kelly Cooper, Ginny Espenshade and Carrie Thurman.
The Woman of Wisdom is someone who takes the time to pass their knowledge and passion on to others. Previous years Women of Wisdom awardees have included Caroline Venuti, Susan Cushing, Daisy Lee Bitter, Mary Lou Kelsey, Karen Murdoch and Amy Bollenbach.
The Young Woman of Distinction award honors an exceptional young woman who is a leader in her school, community or workplace and who inspires her peers to follow her example. Previous Young Woman of Distinction awardees include Lily Johnson, Casey Marsh, Zoe Story, Maddy Bowen, and Kathryn Dolma and KBBI Morning Edition Host Chloe Pleznac.
While the Woman of Distinction, Woman of Wisdom and Young Woman of Distinction are nominated by community members and chosen by board members, Haven House staff recognizes an individual who has helped throughout the year to make it easier for the staff and residents of Haven House. This is the Hero of the Heart award, it’s been awarded to Paul Seaton, Anna Meredith and Doug Koester.
Janie Leask says that the awards provide an opportunity to recognize individuals in the community who might not otherwise be recognized.
“When we have the night at Alice’s and we give out these awards, you just have to look at to the audience who are there and it’s overwhelming just the support from everyone and then everyone’s like, oh yeah, wow, I didn’t realize she did all that too, on top of what they already knew she did,” said Leask.
The mission of Haven House is to support and empower individuals and families impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse by advocating for justice and by providing safe shelter, crisis intervention, prevention and victim advocacy. Leask says that the tie between the organization and the awards recognition is fundamentally a celebration of women.
“Many of the clients who come to Haven House maybe have not had role models and there’s a lot of people in the community who might not have role models and for women to celebrate women and for the community to celebrate women is incredibly important to hear the stories and the contributions of our community.”
Sherry Stead encourages community members to think about the women around them whose lives are making a positive impact.
“If there’s someone that you’re aware of and they’re just out in the community working hard to make Homer a better place. They might be reading to children, working with animals, it’s whatever they’re doing to make Homer better," said Stead.
Nominations are due by 5pm on Monday, March 2nd. If someone you nominated in the past has not yet been honored, nominate them again. The nomination form can be found online at havenhousealaska.org under Events or in person at the Haven House office at 3776 Lake Street in downtown Homer.