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YWCA hosts 15th Annual Milestones Luncheon

 

By Brittany Jones, Sojourners Truth Reporter
Special to La Prensa

 

March is recognized as National Womens History Month during which womanhood and women of all backgrounds are honored for their contributions to society.

 

This recognition began when women in New York City staged a protest over the working conditions in factories in 1857 but it was not until 1981 that a presidential proclamation acknowledged the second week of March as National Womens History Week.

 

It was meant to coincide with International Womens Day, which is March 8 (observed in 1909). In 1987, Congress expanded the observance to a whole monthafter another lobbying protest. 

 

This years theme is Writing Women Back into History and this is exactly what the YWCA of Toledo did during the 15th Annual 2010 Milestones Awards Luncheon: A Tribute to Women.

 

On March 23, 2010, at the SeaGate Center, family, friends and guests gathered to pay homage to past and present honorees. These women have made many contributions and broken barriers in the city of Toledo.

 

Diane Larson, ABC13 News Anchor and 2008 Milestone Business Honoree, hosted the occasion.

 

The president and CEO of YWCA, Lisa McDuffie, opened with a welcome to guests and thanked sponsors and organizations that have supported the association.

 

These women have shattered glass ceilings. They have opened doors for many of us to stand on their shoulders, McDuffie said. They are the most influential women in our community.

 

Afterwards, past honorees were recognized and Sister Ann Francis Klimkowski, a 2005 Milestone Education Honoree, carried out invocation.

 

Seven women were honored that afternoon: Paula Brown (Arts), Betsy Brady (Business), Mari Draughnon Davies (Education), Neema Bell (Government), Dr. Anne Baker (Sciences), Deb Ortiz-Flores (Social Services) and Sandra Hylant (Volunteerism).

 

Brown is the owner of the Paula Brown Shop and Paula Brown Gallery, located downtown, which she established in order to preserve the retail atmosphere in that area. She was the president of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo in 1999 and a docent with the Toledo Museum of Art.

 

What Toledo has in arts, music, theater and dance is unique for a city our size, Brown said. Toledoans need be proud of their cultural richness.

 

Business honoree Brady is very active in the community and with organizations. Currently, she is the vice president and treasurer of Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI) and its six company affiliates. In the past, she has held several board member positions for the Toledo Chamber of Commerce, where she was the first female chairman.

 

A major theme in my life has been the complete intertwining of business, non-profit, familythey all link together and each piece make all the other pieces stronger, Brady said. You draw energy at the same time and that creates a balance.

 

Davies for education began her teaching at Maumee Valley Country Day School where she taught middle school English. She became the chairman of the Lower Language Arts Department and she created the Humanities and Life Skills Curriculum. In addition, she created the Holocaust and Human Rights Curriculum.

 

I believe literature contains the greatest manuals for how to raise children, how to be loving partner, child, parent, friend, Davies said. I believe that through it we can learn everything we need to learn in life.

 

The first African-American woman to receive a full equity partnership with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, Neema Bell, adheres to the belief that destiny is ours to make. The government honoree has held many advisory positions and board positions such as YMCA/JCC Regional Board of Trustees. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

 

As I continue my journey, I vow to do my best to pay it forward for the journeys of others, Bell said.

 

Executive Director of the Toledo Zoo, Dr. Baker, is naturally a lover of animals and zoos. Even though she is nationally recognized as a respected zoologist, locally Dr. Baker has promoted many collaborations of educational arts and cultural organizations such as the Arts Gone Wild project.

 

Science isnt about labs and test tubes, Dr. Baker said. Its about observing and learning from the natural world.

 

Deb Ortiz-Flores, social services honoree, has made many differences as the executive director of Lucas County Jobs and Family Services. She also developed the Office of Hispanic Outreach Programs at The University of Toledo. Throughout her career, Ortiz-Flores has shown her dedication to support community-based activities and has been that voice for those who have none.

 

It is critical for our daughters to have positive role models, Ortiz-Flores said.

 

Volunteering for Hyland is second nature. Her activity in the community is uncanny and numerous. As Larson puts it, if Hyland was paid for the number of volunteer hours put in, Oprah would call her and ask for a loan. In addition to her volunteering, she has raised around $900,000 in donations for non-profits that offer breast cancer services.

 

If you make a one little difference in someones life, then what more in the world could you ask for, Hyland said. The need is great.

 

With thanks and last remarks, the luncheon concluded.

 

This is unique because when everybody is struggling, just to see our community come together and support women have fellowship and still be positive, is just a great affirmation of the strength of our community, said Kathe Lowe, event coordinator.

 
 

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