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Opinion

Heimerman: You go, girls, and I'll follow

Woman of Accomplishment honoree Elaine Goodwin (right) visits with past honoree Averil Schreiber during the Athena Women of Accomplishment Award Reception at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center at Northern Illinois University.
Woman of Accomplishment honoree Elaine Goodwin (right) visits with past honoree Averil Schreiber during the Athena Women of Accomplishment Award Reception at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center at Northern Illinois University.

I was awestruck Tuesday night at the 2017 Athena Awards reception by the achievements of the seven women honored.

Tarryn Thaden received a standing ovation when she was announced as the 2017 Athena Award recipient, and rightfully so.

A self-employed architectural designer, Thaden also helms and assists with some of the most important community service agencies in DeKalb County. She’s president of the board that directs Safe Passage, our local domestic violence shelter, and is heavily involved in groups such as Kiwanis Club, Builders Club and DeKalb High School Key Club.

Elaine Goodwin and Denise Rode each received a Women of Accomplishment award and have similarly long lists of contributions in their fields of work, as well as unpaid philanthropy.

What stuck in my mind was hearing that Goodwin has had 47 years of perfect attendance, all while spinning so many plates and giving so much of herself to the
community.

I looked around, and my #ProudlyDeKalb heart grew. At my table alone were Daily Chronicle colleagues who would make fine nominees, as well as 1994 Athena Award recipient Ging Palma Smith.

I looked farther. The room was packed with women who undoubtedly make DeKalb a better place to live.

A few miles away, one of the strongest, most loving women I’ve met – my wife, Kayla – was reading to our twin 4-year-olds, and getting them ready for bed.

If there’s anything I’ve learned during those four-plus years, it’s that our children are watching our every move, listening to our every word, and adopting our attitudes – for good or for bad. Or in Goodwin’s case, for great. Her six grandchildren have been watching – all of them have earned college degrees.

It gave me a lot of comfort looking around the room and seeing so much of the good, and to know that the honorees and so many of the attendees are out there in the community. They’re teachers, volunteers, business owners and leaders of social justice.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Matt Duffy, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, announced the formation of a new mentorship group, Gather, which will help enlist more women to help lead our community.

It isn’t just the kids who are watching.

I hit the gym this morning feeling inspired, and with a sense of motivation to make sure I can do my part.

Similarly, in the months leading up to my kids’ birth, I dropped about 40 pounds – mostly to get healthy and brace for the sleep deprivation, but also because I knew my kids would be watching my every move. Now I want to be fit so I can tack on volunteerism to my other jobs, as news editor here and dad at home.

Tuesday night, I was watching, admiring, and thinking ahead to what I can do.

In the years to come, I’ll keep watching and try to keep up with the incredible things I know women of DeKalb will be doing.

• Christopher Heimerman is news
editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2221, email cheimerman@shawmedia.com or follow him on Twitter
@CHeimermanDDC.

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