ATHENA Award luncheon tickets in high demand

The ATHENA Award luncheon draws nearly 500 guests annually.

Some local business representatives say it’s one of the more popular events of the year among their employees.

That’s the case at UniFirst Corp.

“We have found the program is so inspiring and so motivational,” said Beth Johnson, UniFirst customer service manager.

The company has no trouble filling an eight-person table each year. In fact, the list of UniFirst team partners wanting to attend often exceeds the number of tickets the company purchases.

Each year, UniFirst sends one employee who has attended the event in the past and knows the ropes along with seven first-timers. Johnson has attended the award luncheon several times and accompanies the UniFirst group when asked.

“The ride back to the company after the event is one of my favorite parts,” Johnson said. “I love hearing the sentiments that are shared.”

The 22nd annual ATHENA Award luncheon is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Owensboro Convention Center. The event is hosted by Girls Inc. and the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce.

Through Feb. 17, tickets cost $50 each. After that date, they jump to $65.

The ATHENA Award allows the community to shine a spotlight on people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make a difference in Daviess County. The award honors one award winner each year who champions women’s issues, devotes time to the community and demonstrates excellence at work.

Seventeen women were nominated for this year’s ATHENA Award. They have until the end of January to complete nomination packets.

Each year, the winner’s name is kept secret until the luncheon.

An out-of-state panel reviews nomination packets and selects the winner.

The ATHENA Award started in Lansing, Michigan, in 1982. Now, it reaches around the world to at least eight countries.

“It’s more than an award luncheon or a business luncheon,” said Sue Napper, chairwoman of the annual ATHENA Award event. “ … It’s an experience. I think everyone, before the day is over, sheds a tear.”

Each year, members of Girls Inc. give brief presentations. The girls tend to steal the show.

When the ATHENA Award luncheon started using that format, they saw an uptick in attendance, Napper said.

To purchase tickets for the annual awards luncheon, call Girls Inc. at 270-684-7833, go to the nonprofit’s Facebook page and use the reservation link or stop by the office at 2130G E. 19th St.

Renee Beasley Jones, Messenger-Inquirer