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Vol. LXIV, No. 10
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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YWCA’s “Tribute to Women 2010” Cites Talent, Energy, Achievement

Ellen Gilbert

Over 400 people attended the YWCA’s 27th annual “Tribute to Women” last week at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, where ten women were recognized for their significant — and very different — achievements.

“They’re all extraordinary women,” observed Board of Directors President Amy Rabner of the evening’s honorees. Selected from approximately 40 nominees, they were recognized for their respective accomplishments and the fact that their work reflected the YWCA’s mission of “eliminating racism and empowering women.”

The ten honorees included Judith K. Brodsky of Rutgers University; Teena Cahill of Wisdom and Beyond; Michelle Emerson of Melting Pot Gifts; Michelle Vaccaro Everman of Mercadien; community activist Carol L. Golden; Cranbury Station Gallery owner Kathleen Maguire Morolda; Ingrid W. Reed of Rutgers University; former Hopewell Township Mayor Vanessa Sandom; Debbie Schaffer of Mrs. G TV & Appliances; and Marjorie A. Young of Princeton University. Bristol-Mayers Squibb Foundation head Patricia Doykos served as honorary chair of the event, and Cathy Frank-White provided the hand-made centerpieces on each table.

Ms. Brodsky credited the Princeton YWCA, which now includes 6,500 members, with welcoming her “over 50 years ago as a young mother who taught swimming.” Accepting her award she noted that she and the other honorees “are proof that women make a difference in all areas of life.”

Viewing her work from a later vantage point, Ms. Cahill thanked the YWCA for helping get her started “after the age of 60,” when she embarked on a career as an “authority on resilient and positively empowered living and leading.”

“I owe a great deal to the YWCA,” said Ms. Doykos, who came from a family that included seven girls and one boy. “I went to the Lawrence, Massachusetts Y every day as a child. There were grown-ups there who were sincerely interested in young girls and their development.”

Noting that “in ten years of public service I’ve never been nominated for anything,” Ms. Sandom acknowledged the YWCA of Hartford for providing a haven for her as “a young, poor college graduate.”

Community House director Marjorie Young, who was recognized for closing “the minority achievement in the Princeton regional schools by establishing partnerships, leveraging strategic tools, and thinking creatively,” noted that “being a non-participant is not an option” in today’s society.

In a tearful tribute to her family, Ms. Schaeffer thanked her grandmother, the original “Mrs. G,” who was in attendance. Ms. Schaeffer reported that the founder of the 75-year old appliance and retail store used to hand customers cards that said, “Never underestimate the power of a woman.”

Surveying the “enormous range of talents and energy” represented by the evening’s honorees, Ms. Doykos correctly predicted that participants would “leave here tonight amazed, awed, and humbled.”

The evening included a video highlighting some of the 88-year old YWCA’s programs. The popular “English as a Second Language” (ESL) courses, it noted, have helped students from five continents, speaking 30 different languages, to learn English, enabling them “to apply for jobs and speak with their children’s teachers.” The Child Care program, housed in the Valley Road building, has served more than 800 children in the community. Over 5,000 women have been helped through the services of the YWCA’s Breast Cancer Resource Center, and the Newcomers’ Club has made numerous women of all ages feel welcome. The Social Justice Institute was applauded for its successful fund raising, and the Aquatics program was cited for its “adapted program,” offering customized classes to individuals with special needs. The non-profit’s gymnastics department was touted for the “fun, non-competitive atmosphere,” it provides.

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