Wanted: Excellent women

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The May Court Club of Chatham celebrated Women of Excellence in 2016, with the recipients shown here. The club is looking for nominations for its 2018 event.

The May Court Club of Chatham is looking for a few great women.

The club is holding its second Women of Excellence Awards, and has extended the deadline for nominations to March 26.

The May Court Club took over the awards in 2016, as the YMCA had run a form of the event previously.

Penny McGregor, a past president with the local May Court Club, said it serves as a means to recognize the achievements of local women, as well as a fundraiser for the club.

“We really felt there was a lack of recognition in our area for outstanding people. We’re looking at inspiring younger people,” she said. “It’s also a fundraiser for us. We need to raise funds for the things we do in Chatham-Kent.”

McGregor added it seems people who don’t live in large urban centres are rather humble in thinking of their accomplishments and potential.

“I’ve always noticed people in a smaller area think they are just from a smaller place and can’t make it big elsewhere,” she said.

And that is just not the case. McGregor pointed to Lynn Patterson, deputy governor of the Bank of Canada.

She’s from Chatham-Kent.

“She came and spoke at our dinner,” McGregor said of the 2016 awards. “She gave a lot of credit to her teachers and to her family for encouraging and inspiring her.”

That type of feedback holds power.

“We want to show people they can set their goals sky high,” McGregor added.

While Patterson no longer lives in Chatham-Kent, other award recipients in 2016 included local achievers such as Jennifer Wilson and Emily Hime.

Wilson has volunteered for years with the YMCA, including on a national level, and was a driving force in fundraising for the local hospice.

Hime opened her own orphanage in Haiti, all while in her early 20s.

The May Court Club can shine a light on women of excellence such as these ladies, but its members cannot nominate anyone. As a result, McGregor and Jo-Ann Patterson, convener of Women of Excellence 2018, encourage others to nominate women.

Categories include arts and culture; business and professions; community and volunteerism; education and training; health, science and technology; and young women of excellence (aged 18-29).

Nominees must have lived or worked in Chatham-Kent at some point in their lives.

Additional information and nomination forms can be obtained from maycourtchatham.ca.

The award recipients will be honoured at an awards dinner May 24 at Maple City Country Club.

Patterson said it’s time to celebrate the accomplishments of local woman, and sometimes help them see just what they’ve done over the years.

“Everybody’s too humble to say, ‘I’ve done something good.’ Then they sit down and go over what they’ve accomplished,” she said. “This is a chance for people to stand up and say, ‘I’m a woman and I’m doing an amazing job!’”

The May Court Club of Chatham is a women’s service organization that for the past 82 years has worked to address needs in the community, primarily those of women and children, through volunteerism and fundraising.

“We give money for adolescent mental health and we support many local organizations,” McGregor said.

The club also provides emergency lunches in 27 schools in Chatham-Kent, and runs a breakfast program at Queen Elizabeth II school in Chatham.

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