Dew receives 2016 Athena Award

Published February 25, 2016
Messenger-Inquirer

Retired history professor and environmental activist Aloma Dew was named the 2016 Athena Award recipient at the 18th annual award luncheon Wednesday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Aloma Dew, left, recipient of the 18th annual Athena Award, accepts the awardfrom Amy Jackson of First Security Bank at the annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Aloma Dew, left, recipient of the 18th annual Athena Award, accepts the awardfrom Amy Jackson of First Security Bank at the annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Hosted by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Girls Incorporated of Owensboro-Daviess County, the luncheon benefits Girls Inc.

“Each year, the Athena Award honors someone from our community who has attained and personifies the highest level of excellence in their profession, has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way and most especially, has opened doors of opportunity for women,” emcee Kirk Kirkpatrick told the crowd of several hundred people. “Today, we honor a very special individual who has not only led a successful career but has been a tireless champion for women, the environment, social justice and human rights.”

Before naming her the Athena recipient, Kirkpatrick listed many of Dew’s accomplishments.

“Our honoree’s work has been characterized by a theme of empowerment,” he said. “… She works to increase the level of autonomy and self-determination in people and communities and in doing so, she has assisted them in overcoming their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence and to represent their interests in a very proactive, responsible and self-determining way.”

When she took the stage, Dew told the crowd she felt “truly humbled.”

“As I listened to all of the names of the women who could have or should have won, I think this is probably just part of the luck of my life, that I lucked out today,” she said. “But I want to say to all of you, when I left Owensboro, I never intended to come back — I say this particularly to you young girls — but thank goodness you can come home again, and I’ve been able to be a part of this community. I want to say to the young people, don’t ever, ever, ever give up because you can do anything. Women have fought for so long for equality and we are not there yet, but by George, we will be, certainly within the next generation. The young people who were up here today have no bars in their way, or certainly very few … Go forth and do whatever you want to do.”

Afterward, with award in hand, Dew said she was in shock.

“You know, you do what you do because it needs to be done, not looking for recognition, but I have to admit it feels awfully good to be recognized,” she said. “I did not expect it, so I didn’t have anything prepared. All of the things I had thought I would say when I got up there were totally gone out of my mind.”
Her fellow nominees were capable and deserving too, she said.

“I am a feminist and a liberal and I believe very much in giving people power and helping women to become all they can be and to not to let anything stand in our way,” Dew said. “There is absolutely nothing we cannot do. And if I can see my granddaughter move that much further ahead, then I will die a happy woman.”

The award announcement came after a number of speeches from Girls Inc. members as well as keynote speaker, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

“I love this group,” Hampton said.  She told the audience that her position has no constitutional duties, but Gov. Matt Bevin has given her the leeway to work on several issues “near and
dear to my heart. No. 1 is reaching kids.

“Growing up poor in Detroit and having the experiences that I had, it is so important that we reach kids,” Hampton said. “I’m grateful there is an organization like Girls Inc. I truly am, because my experience growing up in Detroit, I had to counter a lot of negative voices. These were my peers, other kids. There was tremendous pressure to fail, tremendous pressure to conform.”

Addysanne Stout of Henderson County High School, center, reacts along with Angel Phillabaum of Daviess County High School after they were each awarded a $20,000 scholarship from Girls Inc. at the Athena Awards Luncheon.

Addysanne Stout of Henderson County High School, center, reacts along with Angel Phillabaum of Daviess County High School after they were each awarded a $20,000 scholarship from Girls Inc. at the Athena Awards Luncheon.

It was also announced Wednesday that two Girls Inc. members, Addysanne Stout and Angel Phillabaum, were two of nine girls nationwide to receive a national Girls Inc. scholarship. Both girls received $20,000.

“If you think your investment doesn’t matter, I want you to stop and think about these girls,” Girls Inc. CEO Tish Correa Osborne said after making the announcement. “Without you and what you’re doing, this would not be possible. You are truly changing lives, real lives that many times go pushed to the side and not taken seriously. They’ve been taken seriously and I guarantee you we’re going to be seeing and hearing about them in the future.”

Stephanie Salmons, Messenger-Inquirer

 

Comments are closed.