Vernon Women in Business Woman of the Year 2015 Anne McMeeking-Walsh walked to the podium, her hands clasped in disbelief, as her name was announced at the gala at the Prestige Hotel Thursday evening.
“I am absolutely shocked and surprised and honoured,” said McMeeking-Walsh, an early childhood educator.
“There are so many of you who give so many gifts to the community. Thank you to my nominator and everyone who supported me and all the families I work with every day.”
McMeeking-Walsh, who was honoured for her work with children, parents and families, including volunteer work, said later, “Being nominated and now selected has made me realize how many amazing women there are in the community and how important it is to tell people that you appreciate them and what they do.
“Since the nomination, people have told me almost daily that I am appreciated and I have really felt love and support. Thank you to Vernon Women in Business and all the sponsors of this amazing award.”
Three other nominees were recognized for their contributions to the community through their work and volunteering – Colleen Barker, Judy Mallett, and Deb White.
“Women contribute so much to make Vernon what it is,” said Vernon Women in Business vice-president and award presentation emcee Galina Labun.
Vernon Women in Business Woman of the Year 2015 chair Dr. Shannon MacNeill thanked the committee and the nominees and nominators.
“These fabulous ladies all have very diverse passions and all are truly worthy of this award,” she said.
The Woman of the Year recipient is selected by an independent committee.
“I am proud that we have taken the leadership in this initiative to honour local women. The leaders of Vernon Women in Business had a vision in 1988 and we have kept this idea alive. The nominees are all women who have enriched the lives and quality of life in our community, each in her own way and made it a better place,” said Vernon Women in Business president Sue Beaudry.
Woman of the Year 2014 Joanne Kineshanko spoke about her experiences over the past year.
“Last year, I spoke about my mother and how she had influenced me as a volunteer. I spent Mother’s Day after I received the award with her and I know she was proud of me. Seven days later she passed away peacefully in her sleep. It was a blessing that she could share this with me,” she said, asking people to think about all the things that would not be done in the community without volunteers. Volunteering is a tradition in her family and she had one grandson, Nathan, now six, volunteering with meals at the Lumby seniors’ centre before he was four.
“I asked him why he did it and he answered, ‘It makes me feel good.’ Volunteers are the heart and soul of the community. Encourage your children, grandchildren and friends to volunteer. The nominees here have all done wonderful volunteer work and I know it makes them feel good.”
McMeeking-Walsh received the Woman of the Year trophy, flowers, a gift basket, a Prestige Hotels and Resorts gift package, a custom pearl jewelry set from Barrita Durward and the coveted City of Vernon parking pass from Mayor Akbal Mund.
The evening concluded with an after party.
Many of those present left with a renewed awareness and appreciation for what all women contribute, quietly every day, to the community, and, perhaps, inspiration from the nominees to keep doing their own best wherever they are each day.