Community

YWCA celebrates 20 years recognizing Women of Achievement

Martitha May, one of the women to be honored at YWCA’s Women of Achievement luncheon April 21, sets up a table for a coworker’s birthday party Tuesday. - Steven DeDual/staff photo
Martitha May, one of the women to be honored at YWCA’s Women of Achievement luncheon April 21, sets up a table for a coworker’s birthday party Tuesday.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photo

The time has come again for the YWCA of Kitsap County to recognize local women who have been “part of the fabric of the community,” according to YWCA Executive Director Linda Joyce.

The Women of Achievement luncheon, scheduled for noon-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21 at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside, is a fund-raising opportunity for the YWCA’s ALIVE (Alternatives to Living In a Violent Environment) shelter. The public is encouraged to attend and tickets are $50.

YWCA, which last year celebrated 60 years of community involvement and 30 years of offering its ALIVE shelter to domestic violence victims, began recognizing women’s achievements in the community in 1989 and the event evolved into a luncheon in 1995, according to Joyce.

“It began as a smaller event,” Joyce said. “But our board decided in 1994 that they would do a larger event, one which was deserving of the women who were being honored.”

The event has grown over the years and sells out in most years, according to Joyce.

“We have an event now that in most years has sold out,” Joyce said. “Anywhere between 400 and 450 community members attend this event annually.”

The women who are honored each year are first nominated by the community and then chosen by a selection committee of eight to 10 board and community members. The selection can be a very tough task, according to Joyce.

“It is difficult to make the selections because so many nominations are received,” Joyce said. “Most years we receive between 75 and 100 nominations, and we even had about 150 one year.”

Of the women nominated each year, the committee must select 15 or 16 to receive honors. The women chosen are a “reflection of the good work being done throughout the community,” Joyce said.

“That is the significance of the Women of Achievement luncheon,” she said.

The most important aspect of the women chosen, according to Joyce, is diversity.

“The committee puts a lot of thought into ethnic diversity, socioeconomic diversity and age,” Joyce said. “There are younger women, older women and every age in between.”

Former honoree Oletha Carter-James, a social worker with the Department of Social and Health Services, said it was very special to her to have been honored as well as to have served on the selection committee.

“I felt like the work that I do mattered and it counted in this community and I am honored to be part of this group, this mission and this vision,” Carter-James said.

Olympic College Foundation Executive Director Joan Hanten said it is an honor to be part of this event.

“I thought it was incredibly cool to become a woman of achievement because most of the women of achievement for the last 20 years I know and have worked with,” Hanten said. “There are so many women in there that I admire that it is very, very cool to be part of their group.”

Julie Poston, who owns Rejuv Massage and Spa in Manette, who is being honored at this year’s luncheon said she considers some of the women who have been honored before to be her mentors.

“Patricia Graf-Hoke has consulted me quite a bit with my business and helped me tremendously with marketing strategies and pushing me to make those tough decisions you have to make when you are self employed,” Poston said.

Martitha May, chairperson for the Immigrant Assistance Program, is being recognized for her fund-raising efforts to save the El Centro de la Familia program. May, who helped raise more than $40,000 to fund programs which were threatened to be cut due to the economic downturn, said she is honored, but she doesn’t work for awards or recognition.

“I do it for my heart,” May said. “I love people and I love helping them. I don’t do it expecting something back.”

To purchase tickets to Tuesday’s event, call the YWCA at (360) 479-0522.

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