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4th Annual WISH “Women of Distinction” Honorees Announced


September 16, 2011

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska – Five women will be honored by Women in Safe Homes (WISH) on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the 4th Annual Women of Distinction Dinner and Silent Auction.  The event celebrates the accomplishments of Ketchikan women who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.  The honorees this year are: Fay Freeman, Shellie Greaves, Gerry Knasiak, Mary Schulz and Romaine Thomas.

A gala dinner to honor the women starts with a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Ted Ferry Civic Center followed by dinner (featuring prime rib) and the awards ceremony.

jpg 4th Annual WISH “Women of Distinction” Honorees Announced

2011 Honorees: Gerry Knasiak, Mary Schultz, Fay Freeman,
Romaine Thomas & Shellie Greaves.
Photo courtesy WISH

Following is a brief description of each woman’s contributions:

FAY FREEMAN – Nominated for a lifetime of community and church service dating back to the 1940s when she moved to Ketchikan with her late husband Oral Freeman. She is credited with helping build the school on Potter Road and the first church for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ketchikan. She has served in many capacities and leadership positions within her church, and has always opened her home to the youth in the community who needed a safe and cheerful place to play. She was also a major supporter of her husband’s political ambitions. Oral Freeman was a respected state legislator and was instrumental in creating the Alaska Permanent Fund.

SHELLIE GREAVES – Nominated for her positive response in overcoming personal medical challenges and inspiring others with her kind, selfless and generous service to others. Even during the regiment of chemotherapy as follow-up treatment for breast cancer she continued to reach out to help others that she perceived to be in more dire circumstances than she was. She has been heavily involved in the local HoopMania and Camp Basketball programs for years. She has also been a life-long volunteer in her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having served as leader of the congregation’s Young Women’s program. Her current church assignment is as Relief Society President, the church’s women’s program. In this role she oversees and coordinates learning and service opportunities of roughly 80 active members of the Society.

GERRY KNASIAK – Nominated for her lifelong commitment to volunteerism and a long, long list of community organizations she has contributed to with her time and leadership abilities. Over the years she has been active in First City Players, Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council, KRBD-FM, Community Connections, Ketchikan Indian Community, First City Toastmasters, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Women In Safe Homes, the Pioneers’ Home, and Ketchikan High School activities. During her professional career, Gerry worked for 20 years as a Civil Rights Director for the U.S. Forest Service. She said she has “a passion for civil rights which is all encompassing, advocating for diversity and inclusion.” In an effort to make sure their work isn’t forgotten, Gerry has given numerous presentations over the years that describe the struggles women have gone through to obtain equal rights.

MARY SCHULZ – Nominated for her diligent and persistent efforts in many areas, including a lifetime of water safety instruction for both youth and adults, a teaching career, church activities, volunteer work for Love INC, and as an organizing member of the group that helped form First City Homeless Services. She lived in Juneau in the 1960s when three young boys drowned in Mendenhall Lake. Appalled that they lost their lives because they couldn’t swim, she launched an effort to revitalize an abandoned swimming pool, started giving swimming lessons and began training other adults to teach swimming. Swimming safety and fitness continues in her life and she started the Masters Swim Program for adults in Ketchikan. In her educational career she was a teacher in the Ketchikan school district’s gifted program, taught at White Cliff and Valley Park Elementary Schools, and has been honored as “Teacher of the Year.”

ROMAINE THOMAS – Nominated not only for her achievements managing the Saxman Head Start program, but also for the numerous ways she gives of herself personally to young families in the community. She was born and raised in Ketchikan; attended local schools and went on to obtain several college degrees in both Alaska and Washington. Returning to Ketchikan, she volunteered at HeadStart. She was later offered the Supervisor’s job and it was then that HeadStart’s mission statement became a fundamental part of her family’s life.  In addition to her professional responsibilities, she also helps families in any way that she can individually – to obtain food, clothing, furniture, housing, or simply visiting people at home or in the hospital. She pays particular attention to single mothers, helping them identify resources that are available to them and encouraging them to return to school.

Nominations are provided by friends, family or community members, and the honorees are selected by a committee of volunteers. Honorees from previous years include Yvonne Watson, Karen Eakes, Kathy Fitzgerald, Sher Schwartz, Mimi Eddy, Linda Schrack, Janet Duncan, Bett Jakubek, Marna Cessnun, Clara Diaz, Peggy Hovik, Cecelia Johnson, Jeanne Sande, and posthumous recognition for Esther Shea.

Tickets can be purchased from WISH at 2002 1st Ave or call 225-9474. Cash, checks, VISA/Mastercard accepted.

General Seating: $50

Reserved Seating (Tables of eight): $480

All proceeds from the event will go to support WISH’s mission to provide a safe place, advocacy and education for people impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault/abuse or stalking, and to assist them as they explore their options in southern southeast Alaska.



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