BRADENTON -- In 1990, the path to establishing the Women's Resource Center of Manatee with other local businesswomen was far from smooth for Janet Entwistle.
"When things got tough, I just didn't let go," the 81-year-old said. "I just kept on bringing people in to help."
Entwistle said others felt it was too hard and gave up.
"I just felt the county needed a women's resource center -- and it shows here today," she noted.
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Entwistle was one of 25 women honored Tuesday evening by the WRC, which held a cocktail party for about 100 attendees. The event also marked the center's 25th anniversary in Manatee County.
The "Wonder Women" -- as the center calls them -- include: Manatee County Sheriff's Office Maj. Connie Shingledecker; teacher, mentor and consultant Judith Sedgeman; Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida CEO Barbara Zdravecky; and the late Marjorie Kinnan, an advocate credited with helping shape Manatee County's social service, mental health and education system.
"As you can see, the women are as diverse as our community," said WRC Executive Director Ashley Brown during remarks to the crowd. "There have been boundary crossers. ... and other nonprofit leaders, because we know how hard it is to do the work we do."
Each honoree received a trophy and framed message: "I'm not saying I'm Wonder Woman. I'm just saying no one has ever seen me and Wonder Woman in the same room together."
Last week, Brown told the Herald the center staff thought it would be fun to recognize 25 women who have made a difference in Manatee County.
"There are hundreds, and we were looking at some who certainly have been really involved with WRC, but others we just know are doing great work in their fields or are breaking the bonds of being in a field that wasn't traditionally female based," Brown said.
Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who has donated clothes to the center for years, said she couldn't believe it when told she was selected as a "Wonder Women."
"All the things that you do in life, to me that's expected of our citizens and myself," she said. "And then to actually see that people recognize you for it, it's really humbling."
Amy Wick Mavis, executive director of PACE Center for Girls of Manatee County, was also honored. The 50-year-old Parrish resident was all smiles. She said she didn't expect this.
"It's been a great honor to work in this community for 20 years, to serve our community," Mavis said. "Nothing gives me greater joy then when I see a former PACE girl. ... a former PACE girl is my dental hygienist -- when I go to Blake Hospital and I see a nurse in the ER who came through PACE many years ago. It really gives me great joy that I've contributed to this community for so long."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.