Unable to attend after recently undergoing surgery, the daughter of the Women of Excellence gala lifetime achievement award used her phone, video messaged her mom, showing Eileen Carol Cole what she was missing.
Allison Charlton flew in to Red Deer from Victoria Tuesday morning. By Tuesday evening she was accepting an award for her mother’s lifetime contribution to the community of Red Deer.
Ten awards were handed out to women who work hard in Red Deer Tuesday at the seventh annual Women of Excellence gala. About 350 people looked on as Cole was announced as this year’s lifetime achievement awards.
“What a great honour to be surrounded by this amazing group of women. All who have helped make Central Alberta a better place to live,” said Charlton, reading her mother’s speech. “Volunteering has always been a part of my life, instilled in me by my parents at a very early age.”
Cole owned and operated the Children’s Corner before retiring. Her first role after was to organize the Festival of Trees with a zero dollar budget.
She has volunteered extensively with the Lending Cupboard Society, teaching Sunday school, volunteering on political campaigns and the Ronald McDonald House charity bonspiel. She fundraised for the campaign convert the old fire hall in downtown Red Deer into the public library that it is today.
“I remember as a child she developed, as an entrepreneur, she developed Children’s Corner. It was an education toy store, the first one in Red Deer and it had a playschool in the back,” said Charlton.
“She’s tireless, she has two speeds go and stop.”
Cole was the health region foundation liaison for the healing and hope campaign, which raised $2.5 million to fund the interfaith chapel and garden at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
Held at the Sheraton in Red Deer, the annual event celebrates the innovation, leadership, achievement and talent demonstrated by women throughout Central Alberta.
The awards were presented by the Red Deer and District Community Foundation and sponsored by the Advocate. A total of 23 women were nominated. Other winners include:
The athletics, recreation and fitness award went to Melanie Tuck. An athletic therapist, she opened Collegiate Sports Medicine in 2003, assisting high level athletes throughout the area. She was also the first female trainer in the Western Hockey League, opening the doors for other female trainers.
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Clarke won the business and the professions award for her work at the Nova Chemicals Joffre Petrochemical site. She has been there for 17 years and is currently a communications consultant.
Co-winners of the community building award Valdene Callin and Delta Rempel were honoured for their extensive contribution to Red Deer. Rempel worked for the United Way up until 1997 and now volunteers with the Healthy Families Program, is the board chair of the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre, the Alberta Generations Project and serves on several councils and committees at her church. Callin has tirelessly volunteered for the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, the Red Deer Public Library, Red Deer Childcare Society and the United Way of Alberta. Callin is the community relations manager for family services of Central Alberta and is currently volunteering on the Canada Winter Games 219 Bid Committee.
Helen Sommer-Longshore won the award in education and training. She has more than 35 years experience as a teacher in Central Alberta and has assisted immigrants and refugees at the Central Alberta Refugee Effort for more than 25 years as an English as a second language teacher and as a language assessor.
In the field of entrepreneurship Barbara Jean Tumanut was recognized. She has owned and operated Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut and has volunteered with Rotary Red Deer Sunshine Club and the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce.
Joanne Temple won the environment award for working as an environmental educator for more than 20 years. Most recently she has been the outreach coordinator for the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance.
Dr. Jennifer Anne Bestard was honoured in the health and wellness category. She is the first Canadian neurologist to complete a fellowship in neuropathic pain and headache at the University of Alberta. She has been in Red Deer since 2009, where she commenced her own neurology practice.
The Human Services award went to Ruby Rice. The provincial executive director of the schizophrenia society of Alberta she has held senior leadership roles with non-profits and government organizations for about 15 years.
Notre Dame High School grad Madeleine Schultz was named the young woman of excellence. She was vice president of student council, founded the first Red Deer high school Students Against Drunk Driving chapter, was the marketing and sponsorship chair of the 2011 Alberta Student Leadership Conference and a member of the Youth Voice Red Deer.