Main photo: YWCA Muskoka’s 2018 Women of Distinction Award recipients (from left) Kelli Ebbs, Kennedy Watson-Brown, Michele Meadows, Kathleen May, Nancy Osborne, Ashleigh Whipp, Janine Marson, and Gundy Upans (supplied photo)
It was a full house with full hearts last night at the Mark O’Meara ballroom as eight women from Muskoka were presented with YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, recognized as one of the most prestigious awards in Canada for women.
Recipients were selected from a group of nineteen outstanding nominees who were nominated by their fellow community members.
The 2018 YWCA Muskoka Women of Distinction Award recipients are:
Janine Marson (Huntsville) – Arts, Culture and Creativity
Kennedy Watson-Brown (Port Sydney) – Young Woman of Distinction
Michele Meadows (Bracebridge) – Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Kathleen May (Huntsville) – Community Development and Social Activism
Kelli Ebbs (Huntsville) – Health, Sports and Wellness
Nancy Osborne (Huntsville) – Mentorship
Gundy Upans (Huntsville) – Lifetime Achievement
Ashleigh Whipp (Bracebridge) – Transformational Award
Read the bios of all of the nominees here.
In addition to the award ceremony, a group of enthusiastic young women from the YWCA Girlz Unplugged program performed their own chant about the fate of the environment – “it’s our future” – and the vital role the younger generation will play in “taking it back”. Local song-writer and musician, Christina Hutt, entertained guests with her unique and beautiful sound throughout dinner.
The keynote address was delivered by Michelle Emson, an accomplished public speaker and human rights activist. Emson spoke about receiving her Women of Distinction Award last year. “It gave me confidence and allowed me to commit to my community and do more than I ever imagined,” Emson said. She also spoke about the current situation for women and marginalized groups in Muskoka and the need for equity. “All it takes is for one person to stand up for what matters to them…Muskoka, are we going to stand with them?”
Executive Director of YWCA Muskoka, Hannah Lin, gave a heartfelt thank you to the event sponsors and volunteers. In particular: My Muskoka Remax, YourTV Cogeco, TD Bank Group, Parry Sound-Muskoka Community Network, MacDonald Law, Port Carling Lions Club, Muskoka Chrysler, CIBC Wood Gundy and CIBC Commercial Banking Division, Telus of Huntsville & Region and all the local businesses and individuals who donated to the silent auction.
Lin noted that YWCA Muskoka operates as a charity in the community without any core funding; it raises every dollar through donations, sponsorships and grants to keep their programs running—programs that focus primarily on violence prevention, economic resiliency and youth education and leadership.
If you would like to support YWCA Muskoka to ensure its programs continue, please visit www.ywcamuskoka.com to make a donation.
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