This year’s honorees are (top row, from left) Sue Weber, Kathryn Sharpe, Eva Perkins, Tiana Montgomery and Valerie McDougler; (bottom row, from left) Cheryl Maguire, Heather Hope, Colleen Green, Bethany Wooden-Chapel and Louise Baker.
ALTON — The YWCA of Alton is celebrating 25 years of honorees at the annual Women of Distinction dinner April 30 at the Lewis and Clark Commons.
In consideration of the 25th anniversary, all women who have been honored since 1991 will be recognized as 10 new women are inducted into the academy.
Those inducted as Women of Distinction have demonstrated excellence in leadership, personal achievements and dedication to racial reconciliation.
This year’s honorees are Louise Baker, Colleen Green, Heather Hope, Valerie McDougler, Cheryl Maguire, Tiana Montgomery, Eva Perkins, Kathryn Sharpe, Sue Weber and Bethany Wooden-Chapel.
Louise Baker began working as a volunteer and advocate for children with disabilities in the 1950s. Her first-born daughter, Paula, was born mentally impaired, with few services available at that time. In 1954, she worked with an attorney and formed the Association for Retarded Children in Granite City. She worked with the Granite City School Board and parents to establish special education classes. Baker worked to obtain commitments from parents, recruiting a teacher, arranging transportation, organizing volunteers and eventually getting a classroom in Lake School.
Colleen Green has been a volunteer all her life while raising four daughters and working. She was an adviser for Job’s Daughters and a Girl Scout leader. She and her husband volunteered for Heritage Days for decades. After retirement, Colleen had more time to volunteer. She became active in Alton Memorial’s White Cross Auxiliary in the 1990s and still volunteers every week and at special events. She supports the Godfrey Park and Recreation Department by volunteering at the Corn Maze and other special events at Glazebrook Park. In the early years of the Godfrey Khoury League, she single-handedly washed and mended uniforms. The highlight of her philanthropy is her involvement with All God’s Children Shall Have Shoes. This program was started in the 1970s by Illinois Bell employees. She and her husband, Ford, and their daughter Lisa took over the reins in the ’90s.Thousands of shoes and socks, holiday treats and toys have been given to the area’s neediest children.
Heather Hope, executive director of Pride Inc., is in the business of service. She served as an aviation electrician in the Marines, receiving many medals for meritorious service. As a young woman, she volunteered at the Alton Day Care Center and worked for the Alton Park and Recreation Department as camp counselor and umpire. She is involved with the Miles Davis Memorial Project that recently broke ground in downtown Alton. Through Children’s International, Heather and her husband, Phil, have sponsored a child living in poverty in India since 2005. She was commissioned to sit on Alton’s Beautification and Clean City Committee. She waters flowers in Lincoln-Douglas Square each summer and participates in the Alton City-Wide Litter Pick-up with her teenage son.
Cheryl Maguire began teaching reading in the elementary schools of the Cahokia School District and recently taught courses at SIUE. In addition to teaching, Maguire served her district as the executive vice president of the Cahokia Federation of Teachers and chaired the Grievance, Budget and Negotiation Committees. She served as president of the Wood River Chapter of the American Association of University Women and has been active in their GEMS (Girls Empowered by Math & Science) program. Maguire is a child advocacy volunteer for (CASA) Court Appointed Special Advocate and in that role works with abused or neglected children. She is co-president of the Wood River’s Woman’s Club. She has served as Wood River councilwoman since 2001 and recently held the position of mayor pro tem following the death of Wood River Mayor Fred Ufert.
Valerie McDougler established and organizes a community ministry, Women in the Mirror. The ministry hosts women’s forums once a quarter and challenges women to look to God and within themselves to achieve success. She is passionate about serving the less fortunate. One recent event she hosted was Don’t Die in the Winter, where she asked all attendees to bring gloves so she could deliver them to children who stand at bus stops without gloves. She is a member of and a licensed minister for the Bread of Life Fellowship Church.
Tiana Montgomery, principal of North Elementary School in Godfrey, strives to eliminate racism and empower women every day in her school by fostering a safe and productive learning environment. She leads by example, demonstrating to students, faculty, staff and parents that there can be a place without racism. Montgomery has served on the YWCA’s Scholarship Committee. When her school re-opened after a renovation project, she invited the business community to celebrate the impact local businesses and leaders have on her students. She serves on the board of the Crisis Food Center and promotes the Empty Bowls Project in conjunction with the Jacoby Arts Center.
Eva Perkins is a member of the Alton Section National Council of Negro Women, serving on the Debutante Ball, Harambee Breakfast, 3R’s Tea and has served as corresponding secretary. She participates in their Feed the Hungry Program each month at the First Presbyterian Church in Alton. Each year during Black History Month, she participates in the setup, display and activities of African-American artifacts and historical items at Alton Square Mall. Perkins serves as a member and usher of the Union Baptist Church in Alton and is president of Wood River Baptist Association. She is retired from AT&T, where she participated in All God’s Children Shall Have Shoes. She is a member of the Drug Free Alton Coalition, volunteers at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center once a week, contributes to the Rock Spring Park 20/20 project and has served on the board of the Alton Caring Core. She is a founding member of Green/Perkins Productions, which promotes undiscovered talent.
Kathryn Sharpe has been active in Community Hope Center’s Reflections of Style event, the annual Horizon of Hope breast cancer fundraiser, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She obtained many Christmas items for Home Instead’s Be a Santa to a Senior. She is a member of the Edwardsville Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. She volunteers for the Heartlinks Grief Center in Belleville, an organization that supports mothers and families in need. Her sorority gathered everyday items and food as well as raised money for scholarships for high school students. Sharpe is employed by the Imaging Center of Alton LLC and is able to reach out and connect to women.
Sue Weber has been active in the Alton community her entire life, both as a volunteer and in leadership positions. She was in the Junior Service League through its transition to Junior League, active on most committees. She previously served on the YWCA board and Alton Memorial’s White Cross Auxiliary, working on the Duck Pluckers and Girls on Grapes and Boys on Brew events. She is serving at the president of The Nature Institute and is active in the Jacoby Arts Center. Weber was a co-founder of the Riverside Flea Market in Grafton. She used her passion for gardening to serve on the Pride Inc. board and community beautification committees.
Bethany Wooden-Chapel, chief financial officer of Atlantis Pools, is a behind-the-scenes worker for All God’s Children Shall Have Shoes. She supports Hope Rescues and organizes events and adoption parties for animals. Through her role at Atlantis Pools, she helps make the United Way’s Community Christmas a success and supports many other community events and fundraisers. She has volunteered at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, helping and entertaining young children. She and her husband, Dr. Kevin Chapel, volunteer and promote causes that focus on making the River Bend a better place to live.
Seats for the YWCA Women of Distinction dinner are $60 and reservations can be made by emailing Andrea at email@example.com or by calling the YWCA at (618) 465-7774. Make checks payable to the YWCA of Alton.