ROCK FALLS – Nearly 230 people gathered at Rock River Golf and Pool on Thursday afternoon to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and honor the women who have made a difference in the Sauk Valley.
The 29th annual YWCA of the Sauk Valley Women of Achievement luncheon brought together women from across the area who have dared to change the way things are for the better.
“We’re here to honor women who inspire us all,” said Carol Fitzgerald, executive director of the YWCA. “Recognizing that makes me think of another women who inspired many of us, and died just last week, Geraldine Ferraro.”
Fitzgerald said she remembers “how overwhelming, how thrilling it was for Gerry Ferraro to be the first female vice presidential candidate in 1984.”
Fitzgerald was one of many women who followed Ferraro’s candidacy. She said Thursday’s event honored other trailblazers who have followed in Ferraro’s footsteps.
Seven women were honored during the luncheon. Fifteen other nominees received certificates to mark their accomplishments.
“I’m really happy just to even be nominated,” said Ashley Wolfe, 18, of Dixon, winner of the Young Woman of Tomorrow Award. “I’m overwhelmed with joy; I didn’t really think that I was going to get it.”
Wolfe, a senior at Dixon High School, is a member of National Honor Society, Peer Jury, Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die, Pride team, Student Council and choir. She has a 3.9 grade-point average and works at the Dixon YMCA.
She plans to attend Augustana College and major in international business and French and minor in religion.
Marion Wilson, of Dixon, won the Louise Bittorf Sullivan Inspirational Woman Award for her work as executive director of the Dixon PADS homeless shelter. Wilson also volunteers for the Lee County Council on Aging and KSB Hospital.
She said she was amazed to have won.
“My daughter [Valerie Herbenick] put my name in, and I didn’t know anything about it,” Wilson said. “I think it’s important for women to know how important their work is and to let the community know what women do.”
Fitzgerald said the event usually raises about $5,000 to help support YWCA programs.
Crete Dillon Bowman Award: Betty Steinert of Morrison.
Jane Reid Keefer Award for Professions and Education: Donna Ripley of Sterling.
L.L. Ely Award for Clerical Excellence: Nancy Vock of Sterling. Vock, of the Whiteside County Health Department, won the award for making health care more accessible to Spanish-speaking patients.
Pearl Woods Award for Business and Industry: Colleen McCarter, a customer service manager at Frantz Manufacturing.
Louise Bittorf Sullivan Inspirational Woman Award: Sandi Ivey, of Sterling, of Team Underwires, which raises money to fight breast cancer, and Marion Wilson, of Dixon, executive director of the Dixon PADS shelter.
Young Woman of Tomorrow Award: Ashley Wolfe of Dixon.
Also honored were: Ann Lewis, Trista Miller, Jessica Strader, Cindy Brown, Michele Carr, Aleta VanNatta, Avril Guinn, Deanna Lancaster, Barb Peach, Marie Deter, Bridget Hughes, Mallory Sisson, Jennifer Vasquez, Ermelinda Lewis and Suzy Perino.
Go to www.ywca.org/saukvalley for more information on the YWCA of the Sauk Valley or to donate.