Caring Women honored
By Leah Schwarting
NATCHEZ — Images of the iconic Turning Angel looked over a series of names of award winners at the Natchez Convention Center on May 7 as the city’s hospitals honored women’s achievements in the community at the Caring Women Recognition and Celebration.
For the first time since Natchez Community Hospital and Natchez Regional Medical Center merged as one company, hospital officials asked the community to nominate women who had made a difference through their perseverance, promise, and roles as leaders, defenders, mentors and volunteers.
Out of the 73 women nominated by the community, seven were selected, and their names were unveiled at the conference on plaques bearing the picture of the Turning Angel.
The Turning Angel, the image from the statue in the Natchez City Cemetery, has become the symbol of the Caring Women awards here.
This year’s winners were Dr. Ruth Nichols, leadership; Karen Ewing, perseverance; Daye Dearing, defender; Leola Harris, mentor; Kathleen Stevens, volunteer; and Chandler Renee Russ, promise.
Each woman’s journey was unique, from helping children get into college to working with veterans. As a result of their efforts, the seven women’s fingerprints can be seen all over the Natchez community.
For Ewing, her work began with a personal tragedy. In 2003, her son was shot and killed by one of his friends, who reportedly was playing with a pistol.
Afterwards, she became an advocate for victim’s rights, resulting in her job as the first victim’s assistance coordinator at the Adam’s County Sheriff’s Office. Now, she works with victims of criminal acts to inform them of their rights and help them find care for their physical and emotional needs.
Her nominator described her as a “beacon of comfort and help to others,” resulting in her winning the perseverance award.
Ewing said she was surprised and overwhelmed by the award, but that it was not what her job was about.
“I don’t do what I do for recognition,” Ewing said. “I do it just because I love doing it.”
Similar feelings were found in the youngest nominee, 18-year-old Russ.
Russ’s outstanding grades at school and volunteer work, such as working as a tutor at home and at a hospital in Haiti, resulted in her being nominated twice.
The committee gave Russ the promise award after her academic dedication and volunteer efforts convinced them that she had, in the words of the award’s description, “the potential to become a caring woman.”
“God gifted me with such an amazing urge to help others, and so I think I just need to take that gift and show it to other people and let them know that our goal here is to help each other and love each other as human beings,” Russ said.
Russ, as well as the six other winners, is the latest winner of an award that goes back seven years.
Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital CEO Eric Robinson hopes the awards will help shine light on the work the women do in the community.
“A lot of these women never get recognized for all the wonderful things that they do,” Robinson said.
Nominees in each division included:
Leadership — Beverly B. Adams, Joyce Borum, Teresa Busby, Mary Huhn, Joyce Washington Ivery, Lillian Johnson, Mary Lessley, Mimi Miller, Bettie L. Minor, Morgan Mizell, Judy Moody, Alphaka Moore, Dr. Ruth Nichols, Gladys Smith, Judy Stahlman, Dorothy Sylvester, Beth Troutman, Carolyn Verucchi and Sue Ann Wilt.
Perseverance — Lynn Britt, Karen Ewing, Lisa Finley, Norma Hammack, Crystal Harper, Sharman Hart, Susan Marlow, Chen Sanders and Monica Smith.
Defender — Christy Carter, Cathy Dale, Daye Dearing, Kathy Fitch, Roma Golden, Josephine Hawkins, Nancy Hungerford, Angela James, Ann Elizabeth Kaiser, Virginia O’Beirne and Susan Windham.
Mentor — Dr. Carrie Ford, Rose Minette Gaudet, Leola B. Harris, Melanie Harveston, Naomi Henry, Jeanine Herrington, Annette Johnson, Lisa Lewis, Peggy McCall, Gwendolyn Nelson, Sharon Robinson, Rachel Torries and Gwen Young.
Volunteer — Patricia Anderson, Letta Crocker, Nan Garrison, Marie Gasquet, Dianne Good, DeAnne Guedon, Patricia Ikard, Kay Jenkins, Peggy McCall, Carol Ray, Dena Reece, Evelyn Riggs, Kappi Rushing, Helen Moss Smith, Kathleen Stevens and Rosie White.
Promise — Anna Clair Babb, Akua Kumi, Kyler Parks, Chandler Renee Russ, Alana Singleton and Jasmine JaNee Winding.