Woman of Distinction Award Winners Announced

WoD_winnersSoroptimist International of Hood River’s welcomes Allyson Pate, Ann Frodel and Tami Swanson as the 2015 winners of its annual Women of Distinction Award.  Each year since 1975, Soroptimist of Hood River has worked with community leaders and organizations to honor women whose work in a professional or volunteer capacity has made a significant difference in the quality of life in our community.

 The three women will be introduced by their nominators at an awards luncheon in their honor on Wednesday, May 27, from 11:30- 1:00 pm in the Best Western Hood River Inn Gorge Room. Tickets for the luncheon are $24 each and available at Waucoma Bookstore.

 “Ann has participated in the community for over 25 years and in 2006 became one of the founders of the Waterfront Community Park Association (WCPA) with the goal to fund and build a new park on the Columbia River. To this day, Ann still serves as WCPA chair,” wrote Jacquie Brown Barone in her nomination of Ann Frodel. “Her work included fundraising and grant writing, working on a master plan, working closely with the City and the Hood River Parks and Rec. The Waterfront Park has had a bigger community impact than even she could have imagined. It anchors the many businesses, residences and services located just across from it. Beyond its incredible economic impact, the Waterfront Park has brought the community together, with families playing, various events using its location, walkers and windsurfers talking together, weeders helping tourist explore Hood River. It has become a special place where we all can come together and take pride in our little town.

 Ann also served seven years on the Hood River City Council, helped develop the Hood River Lacrosse team, and has served as a volunteer for a broad spectrum of local non-profits.”

 Here is what Allyson Pate’s nominator, Karon Peterson, said: “Allyson served seven years as chair of the Commission on Children & Families, on the Citizens’ Review Board for Foster Children and assisted in the formation of our area’s warming shelter. What really makes her deserving of this award, however, is her development eight years ago of the Give Them WINGS program. Through her other work, she realized that young men who were formerly in foster care, homeless and unemployed and with little hope of success, needed a place to live, learn life skills, job skills and make the life-altering changes needed to become self-confident, healthy, responsible members of society. She saw the potential in these young men and opened doors for them.  After eight years, WINGS has ‘graduated’ over 80 young men.” Now, Allyson and her grant-supported assistant are creating similar opportunities for young women.

 “The WINGS program is successful because of Allyson’s drive and determination to make a difference in the lives of these young men and women. She works to build community awareness and to constantly find new sources of funding, another testament to Allyson’s commitment,” wrote WINGS board member Lisa Brown.

 Tami Swanson’s nominator, Nancy Johanson Paul, said “In 1990, young mother Tami (Russell) Swanson volunteered to organize a New Parent Services play group in Cascade Locks. Twenty-three years later, it is still meeting every Tuesday, and Tami is still coordinating it. ­­The Cascade Locks play group provides very important support for parents who might have no other way to know each other, to meet and support each other and have their children can play together.”  In addition to coordinating play groups throughout the county, Tami has facilitated parenting classes in Cascade Locks, Hood River and The Dalles. In 2000, Tami was hired by New Parent Services as a Healthy Start Home Visitor, meeting with young parents having their first baby, many who are at risk for child abuse or neglect. She has mentored over 150 families, many who were raised in abusive and neglectful homes. “Tami works endlessly to help them become the best parents they can be. Her families know they can always call her and she will be there to give them support. She focuses on their strengths and gives families the hope they need to continue providing for their children so they can grow up healthy and happy.”

 Soroptimist of Hood River is part of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Women interested in helping to empower other women are welcome to be part of Soroptimist of Hood River. Find more information, call Barbara Young, 541-490-1996.

(Winners’ portraits created by SIHR member, Denise Rehse Watson/Kitten With A Camera.)

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