"This community takes a stand, fights for kids and encourages them to do their best," said Rebecca Neuenswander Welsh, founder and president of the HALO Foundation and the keynote speaker at Tuesday's 14th Annual Women of Achievement Yellow Rose Luncheon.
The luncheon, at Capitol Plaza Hotel, was hosted by the Zonta Club of Jefferson City to honor the women who have made an impact in the community.
Marylyn DeFeo, volunteer executive director and founder of the Samaritan Center, received Zonta's Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is in honor of Mrs. William H. Weldon who, along with her husband, started the News Tribune Company and the Goshorn Handicap Center for children with development disabilities in 1960, which later merged with another agency to form the Special Learning Center.
DeFeo has lived in Jefferson City since 1963. She has impacted many area organizations, including founding the Samaritan Center more than 25 years ago. She and her husband of 56 years have seven children, 27 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Deb Brown and Sister Evelyn Marie Peterman received Zonta's Women of Achievement Award, which was "established to increase community awareness, understanding and appreciation of women and their diverse contributions."
Brown was a teacher for 30 years before retiring and opening Prison Brews Restaurant and Microbrewery in 2008. After successfully opening the business on Ash Street, she set to work revitalizing the neighborhood. She also partnered with Jefferson City's Kiwanis Club and formed the city's first bocce league.
Peterman has served as a Franciscan Sister of Mary for the past 70 years, dedicating her life to the glory of God. She is both a registered pharmacist and a
registered nurse, and has traveled around the world serving those in need. She most recently was a chaplain at St. Mary's Health Center and Villa Marie Rehabilitation Unit and ministers to the prisoners at Algoa and Jefferson City Correctional Centers. She is a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Nominees for the Women of Achievement Award included Brown and Peterman, as well as Ann Bax, Cynthia Blosser, Anne Carmichael, Guinevere Gevecker, Claudia Goodin, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Dr. Connie Hamacher, Brenda Hatfield, Dr. Lois Heldenbrand, Lt. Col. Sandra Karsten, Christie Kincannon, Marlene Medin and Anita Randolph.
Zonta also awarded four local women with a Second Chance Scholarship. The women include Rebecca Gillard, Carolyn Lewis, Diana Otto and Naomi Tucker. To be eligible, the women must be at least 24, have a high school diploma or GED and must live, work or attend college in the Central Missouri area.
"These four deserving women have been given the opportunity to fulfill their dreams in careers to benefit our community for years to come," said Peggy Jensen, Second Chance Scholarship committee chair.
Welsh quoted Mother Theresa to finish her address to luncheon attendees.
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other."
"We belong to each other," Welsh said. "That is community."