The Women of Distinction award is given annually to Hood River County women who have made a significant, long-term difference in the lives of people living in our county.
The community is invited to honor this year’s Soroptimist of Hood River Women of Distinction Award recipients: Anne Holmstrom, Faith Ackerman and Carolyn Bondurant.A luncheon celebrating their accomplishments will be held Wednesday, November 3, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Best Western Hood River Inn Gorge Room.Tickets are available from Waucoma Bookstore or by calling Jean Harmon, 541-386-3748. The $16 tickets must be purchased by Monday, November 1.
Anne Holmstrom spent over 25 years leading the Cascade Locks School PTO and the local 4-H program. At the school, she organized fundraising and community-enhancing activities, kept up the school landscaping and everyone’s spirits with her commitment to a great quality of life for the school and community. Anne became involved in the Cascade Locks 4-H program when her three children were growing up. They participated, but Anne also made sure 4-H was available to all the community’s children and adults. She continues to help organize the 4-H County Fair to make sure it is a success for all the children and leaders involved.Eight years ago, the local Lioness Club brought the SMART reading program to Cascade Locks; Anne has served as its coordinator ever since, actively recruiting adult volunteers who make sure reading is enjoyable for hundreds of students and distributing countless books to emerging readers. Several years ago, Anne was named Volunteer of the Year by the Hood River County Commission on Children & Families for her tireless leadership and commitment to the children of our county.
Faith Ackerman may be best known for co-founding and leading the Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta since 1975, where her dream of having intermediate-level local musicians play in a full orchestra has been realized year after year, thanks to her diligent persuasion and organization skills. In 2005, the non-profit Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association was formed, with Faith as president, guiding the Sinfonietta and the creation of Voci Women’s Chorus, Men’s Chorus and continuing the String Orchestra for beginning adult and youth musicians. She has served three years on the board of KQAC/KQHR (90.1), bringing classical music to everyone in the Gorge. This mother of four and orchardist’s wife has played the organ at St. Mary’s Catholic Church nearly every Sunday (as well as at countless wedding and funerals) for the last 50 years, often after teaching Sunday school.
Faith is also a registered nurse who has volunteered for decades at immunization clinics and blood drives and on the Mid-Columbia Medical Center Foundation Board. She also, according to her now adult children, provided shots at her home for everyone on their side of the valley who couldn’t make the trip the doctor’s office in Hood River. Faith was elected to serve as a Hood River Valley High School Committee for nine years, volunteers at the county history museum every Friday, and works at FISH Food Bank.
Carolyn Bondurant has spent over 30 years making a difference in the lives of teens and families. As a young mother she started a play group for stay-at-home moms to get together and share parenting ideas while their little ones played. Several years later, Carolyn was hired by Next Door as their first prevention coordinator, helping at-risk families and youth learn to prevent problems. She connected families with community resources and family counseling and facilitated school groups, especially for teenage girls at risk for pregnancy.
From that sprung the notion of providing those kinds of services to families with young children, especially those at risk for abuse or neglect. Carolyn and other community activists did research and wrote grants to create New Parent Services, a program to help parents with their first babies thrive with support from home visitors and parenting education opportunities. She served on and led its advisory board for several years before being recruited as program manager. She and her staff of paid workers and volunteers worked tirelessly to grow NPS into one of the strongest programs of its kind in the Northwest.Her also spent nine years as an enthusiastic, committed 4-H leader.
Carolyn is currently the highly inspiring site coordinator for ASPIRE (Access to Student assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone) at Hood River Valley High School, bringing juniors and seniors together with trained adult mentors who make sure each student can apply for and get into college or other post-high school education. In 1993 only 12% of HRVHS students went on to higher learning; today about 85% enter college or a trade school. In 2008 she received a State of Oregon award for her amazing work with aspiring high school to college students.
For more information about Soroptimist or the Women of Distinction Award, contact Jean Harmon, 541-386-3748 or Michele Sliwa, 509-637-0361.
Portrait photography of the Women of Distinction Awardees by SIHR member, Denise Rehse Watson of Photosensitive Portraits.