One has been called a warrior for the overlooked. Another, a champion for children and refugees. A third, a mentor extraordinaire. Two more are tireless Tallevast community activists.
They are Cheri Coryea, Joanne Dick, June Isbell and Laura Ward and Wanda Washington, respectively.
They are the five honorees at Saturday’s sixth annual Women of Achievement Luncheon at IMG/ El Conquistador, benefiting the Bradenton branch of the American Asso- ciation of University Women Scholarship Foundation.
The luncheon traditionally recognizes women who have made a difference in the community with their leadership and efforts to improve the lives of others.
“Overwhelming is the first word that comes to mind when I think of these women,” said Elaine Graham, president of the AAUW-Bradenton branch. “I am overwhelmed by their accomplishment and achievement, yet they are so quiet.
“Some of these women are shy and so unassuming, yet they’ve done fantastic, marvelous, life-affirming things.”
The honorees, selected from more than 20 nominees, are:
n Cheri Coryea -- Director of Manatee County’s Neighborhood Services Department, she manages the county functions and goals for Community Development, Neighborhood Planning, the Library Division and Economic Development Division as well as federal, state and county programs involving the Community Development Block Grant, State Housing Initiative Partnership Program and HOME Program among others.
“Cheri is one of our younger honorees and a role model for other women to become involved in local government and issues,” Graham said.
n Joanne Dick -- Besides hosting more than 300 needy people for more than 40 years and serving as president of the American Heart Association county chapter, she helped found Guardian Angels, a group building faith-based foster homes, founded Refugee Inc., served as a Presbyterian Church elder and organist at several churches and serves dinner Saturday nights at the Salvation Army shelter.
“Joanne has truly shaped young lives in many ways,” Graham said. “She has been strong and steady in her beliefs that all people have value and need opportunities.”
n June Isbell -- She was on the Manatee Memorial Hospital board of trustees for 11 years, started the hospital’s women’s advisory committee and served on the Manatee Housing Authority, the League of Women Voters, the Manatee Children’s Services board and the Manatee School District’s health advisory committee among other panels.
“June has shown through her quiet leadership style and mentoring countless people that one person can impact many,” Graham said.
n Laura Ward and Wanda Washington -- Since the discovery of a plume of wastewater contaminating Tallevast more than a decade ago, these women have worked tirelessly with others to get the situation in their community rectified. They became amateur environmental investigators and have been intermediaries with lawyers and the government agencies during legal arbitration.
“Taking on an issue like Tallevast by these women has a life beyond their community,” Graham said. “We need people who see a problem and have the stamina, the caring to take on whomever to try to make a situation and lives better.”
Proceeds from the luncheon go toward the AAUW branch foundation that provides scholarships to local women and men 25 and older who decide to go back to college.
The branch has nearly 100 members.
“This is an opportunity to honor these women and provide opportunities to send people on a path so we might honor them down the road,” Graham said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055.
IF YOU GO
What: Sixth annual Women of Achievement Luncheon benefiting Bradenton branch of the American Association of University Women Scholarship Foundation.
Where: IMG/El Conquistador Country Club, 4350 El Conquistador Parkway, Bradenton.
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Information: Call 941-751-1216, 941-746-2708.