PHOTOS: Hope honours five female changemakers at March ceremony

It’s a new Hope tradition, one that falls on International Women’s Day and honours the women in our lives and communities whove . For the second year in a row, five women and dozens of nominees where honoured with the title of a woman of distinction. The five women this year were Esther Brysch, Cheryl Lacey, Lydia Koot, Kathy Koopman and Karen Nelson, who were celebrated at a March 9 awards night.

Meet the five 2020 women of distinction, through the words of those who nominated them:

Esther Brysch:

“She is a busy working mum, who seems to have time for everyone. Many of us have been lucky to learn from, and work alongside her at the community garden. It is often said, ‘What would we do without this woman?’ She is creative, hardworking, calm and intelligent. The perfect recipe for a great leader, and friend.”

Cheryl Lacey:

“She is always willing to lend a hand for the betterment of the community…She is a counsellor with the Ann Davis Transition Society and is passionate about her work. Many women have stated how she has helped them, even women in the community who are not on her client list…She is a little dynamo who, no matter if it is a good day or bad day, follows through on commitments. She is looking forward to retirement but like her mom, will probably only increase what she is doing.”

Lydia Koot:

“She does not stop…her passion is to educate people about bears and help us to know that we can live safely with bears for both our benefit. She also educates and guides Hope and area residents and businesses to live in harmony with, not only bears, but cougars, coyotes, racoons, lynx and bobcat in our wildlife-rich area. Her knowledge and service to the community is especially important now, with so many new residents moving here from more metropolitan areas who do not have the understanding of being ‘Bear Aware’.”

Kathy Koopman:

“(She) epitomizes all that is right in the world. As a teacher, she has influenced hundreds of Hope students and taught them skills beyond reading and writing… She acts without judgment, doesn’t gossip or spread rumours, and she always gives of herself in any way she can. She always makes time for others, and when around her, she makes you feel like you are the only thing that matters at that moment.”

Karen Nelson:

“She started in special education where she fought for the rights of our identified special kids and then advanced to assistant superintendent and now superintendent. When I first started in the district, she was one of very few women in the board office so I am sure it was not an easy path. Today, under her leadership, the bulk of our district staff are women. Her hard work leaves a legacy of an education based on relationships where all members feel valued and respected.”

Of course, Hope has more than five outstanding women to celebrate, here are the other women nominated:

Carol Ann McKay, Christina Scherle, Deanna Deleurme, Debbie McKinney, Michele Drummond, Sharyn Harvey, Diane Trepanier, Michelle Vandepol, Lenora Poulin, Sharlene Harrison Hinds, Marla Rosenberg, Karen Virteau, Shannon Jones, Teresa Williams, Inge Wilson, Sophie Dyck, Lisa Friesen, Pauline Newbigging, Diane Ferguson, Lonni Manweiler Warren, Darlene, Sharice, Sherry, Kim Paolini, Talitha Wispinski and Jill Last.

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