A crowd of 100 Womentoring Alumnae, current participants, supporters and friends gathered on January 4th to network, catch up after the holidays, and to hand out not one, but TWO awards...read on!
Last November, Womentum asked Alumnae and participants to place nominations for the Turley "Onward" Award. This award was established in 2014 to honor the inspiration and contributions of one of Womentum's founding members, Melissa Turley. Annually, this award honors a woman in the Jackson Hole community who has showcased an exceptional commitment to using her intellectual, creative, and charitable spirit to effectuate meaningful social change for women, and is a role model for others.
With so many compelling nominations, Womentum decided that one award wasn't enough. We created the Shelley Simonton Memorial Award, to honor the Womentum co-founder who succumbed to cancer in 2017 at the age of 49. Shelly was a fantastic combination of community commitment and pure, unadulterated fun. When considering ways to honor her unforgettable legacy, we came to the swift, unanimous conclusion to establish this award in her memory, by honoring a woman in our community who embodies Shelley's brilliance, dedication, and joie de vivre.
This year, Michelle Rooks was awarded the Turley Onward Award. Rooks is a veteran Middle School teacher and one of the original founders of Womentum. Karen Stewart nominated Rooks, stating, “If you ask any young woman who was lucky enough to have Michelle rooks as a teacher, they will tell you how she influenced their lives by encouraging them always to question, think for themselves, and stand up for their rights as young women.” The awards committee expressed gratitude and respect for Michelle’s tireless creative work on behalf of girls and women in the community.
The 2018 Simonton Memorial Award was given to Joni Upsher. Upsher is a long-time community and business leader who, after losing her husband to cancer, started Meals with a Mission to provide healthy food for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Upsher currently serves as the Volunteer Services Coordinator at St. John’s Medical Center and recently started yet another small business, Hole Health Coaching, aimed at helping others achieve their best life. April Norton, who nominated Upsher says, “Joni epitomizes the term ‘Role Model’ and serves the community with humility and grace.”
Both the Onward Award and the Simonton Memorial Award come with a cash grant (generously donated from an anonymous supporter) that the recipients designate to the local nonprofits of their choice. Rooks chose G.A.P. as the recipient of her cash grant, and Upsher designated Hole Food Rescue.
Womentum would like to express gratitude to the women who inspired these two awards, to the nominees and award recipients for setting indelible examples of how to live with purpose and change lives, and to the anonymous donor who allows us to "pay it forward" into the community.
Onward into 2018!