Women of Strength: Past, Present, and Future

400-ENTERPRISING-WOMEN’S-LEWomen of Strength: Past, Present, and Future

By Michael Isam
Special to Historic City News

The theme for the 14th annual International Women’s Day Celebration, sponsored by the Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute, was “Women of Strength: Past, Present and Future”, according to a report filed by Historic City News special features contributor, Michael Isam.

This year’s awards presentation was held at Marsh Creek Country Club on Tuesday evening. The room was packed as the annual event is one of special meaning to the Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute and the women leaders in the St. Johns County area.

“It is hard to believe this is our 14th year in St. Augustine and the 30th year for Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute,” said Marilyn Wiles, the organization’s founder.

The keynote speaker for this year’s event was Dr. Lawanda Ravoira, President and CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center in Jacksonville. Dr. Ravoira spoke about changing not only how young women see themselves, but how the world sees them.

“There is a stigma that surrounds young women who have been classified as in trouble, or, on the verge of trouble, delinquent or incarcerated,” Dr. Ravoira explained to the audience. “This view is based on where these women are physically seen. These are their current circumstances, not who they are.”

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is working to change those stereotypes. Their philosophy is, “See the girl, and see the potential”.

Honorees for “Women Leaders Making a Difference” are:

Nettie Ruth Brown – Emeritus, Extension Family Consumer Agent U of F
Patricia Laurencelle – Emeritus, St. Johns County Library Advisory Board
Susan Parker – Executive Director, St Augustine Historical Society
Melanie Cain-Stage – Founder, HAWKE
Anne Kraft and Jean Rahner – Co-Founders, Limelight Theatre of St. Augustine

Recipients of the Barrie Higgins High School Seniors Leadership Award were selected by their school counselors as outstanding young women leaders in their respective schools and communities.

They are:

Sarah Ilaria – Bartram Trail High School
Margaret Leach – homeschooler nominated by Chris Man
Sarah Schreck – Creekside High School
Katie Wyatt – Allen D. Nease High School

In addition to the award each senior received, scholarship assistance was provided by the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office 4-Star Association, represented by Sergeant Catherine Payne.

Present with Susan James of Student Travel & Exchange Programs were two exchange students. One from Russia hosted by the Sybille and John Lucas famzily of Palm Coast and one from Spain hosted by the Chris and Mary Ann Magnell family of Palm Coast.

Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute provides support for St Johns County Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition. They also work with The Wildflower Clinic to help raise the community’s awareness of the need for free dental care to those who cannot afford it.

Photo credits: © 2014 Historic City News contributed photograph by Michael Isam

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