Sandpoint has been recognized throughout the country, and even the world, as one of the most beautiful places on earth. But it is not just the physical beauty that makes this town so special, it is the people who give of their time and talent that truly make it a wonderful place to live or visit. And while many do so without the expectation of being recognized for their efforts, the Women Honoring Women organization has been doing just that for the last 20 years.
Former Sandpoint mayor and longtime community volunteer Marsha Ogilvie formed Women Honoring Women with the purpose of recognizing and celebrating Women of Wisdom who have done much through volunteerism and leadership to improve the quality of life for others in Bonner County.
The board members, approximately 25 women from around the community, accept nominations each year from friends, family, co-workers or neighbors of candidates the nominators wish to be named a Woman of Wisdom. The letters are often heartfelt stories of how the nominee has touched the lives of others through her altruistic actions. The committee’s decision is not based on how many letters of nomination are received but rather on whether the letters meet, or in many cases surpass, the criteria set by the Women Honoring Women.
The candidate criteria include the following:
• 65 years or older.
• Vision/ Collaboration: The candidate must possess vision and achieve her goals through collaboration with others.
• Love of Learning: The candidate must exhibit a love of life-long learning through study or experience.
• Community: The candidate must show a long-term commitment and positive impact to Bonner County.
• Leadership: The candidate must demonstrate dedicated leadership.
• Inspiration: The candidate must inspire others and set an example for future generations of women.
• Grace/Courage/Integrity: The candidate must face life’s challenges with grace and courage and live a life of dignity, integrity and honor.
Women may be nominated posthumously as well.
Since it first began, Women Honoring Women has honored more than 111 Women of Wisdom from Bonner County, and the choice is not always an easy one to make.
“Our committee meets shortly after the nomination period closes and reads every nomination letter,” said Board President Kari Saccomanno, who adds that it is at that meeting when the honorees are chosen.
Leslie Marshall is a new member of the board and looks forward to honoring the incredible women from the community.
“I am so excited and honored to be a new member of this organization. After attending last year's gala, I was impressed with all the good Women Honoring Women has been doing and continues to do. What an upbeat group of women!” said Leslie.
For board member Barbara Eacret, joining the board has been an opportunity to bestow upon others an honor she received.
“I received this incredible honor (being a Woman of Wisdom) in 2011 after being in the community for only nine years and could not have been more shocked,” said Barbara. “I have found our community to be the most welcoming, kind and compassionate of anywhere I have lived, much of which is due to the involvement of amazing, talented and caring women. I am proud to be able to pay it forward and recognize the value that women are bringing to make this such a wonderful place to live.”
While part of the mission of Women Honoring Women is to honor older women in the community, another important aspect is to inspire and support young women in their journey as well. To that end, each year Women Honoring Women donates scholarships to graduating seniors and at times others who are continuing their post-secondary education. The Women of Wisdom Scholarship Fund was established in 2002 to encourage young women to pursue their quest of higher education.
“As an organization that honors women 65 years of age and older who possess vision, a love of learning, a commitment to their community, leadership qualities, provide inspiration and show grace, we feel it is important to also do what we can to encourage the younger women in Bonner County to pursue an education and support them on that journey,” said Marlene Rorke, scholarship committee chairperson.
Last year one of the scholarship recipients was Kaylee Taylor, a 2018 graduate of Priest River Lamanna High School. The money helped her to pursue her goal of attending North Idaho College to obtain an associate’s degree in criminal justice. She then plans to attend the University of Idaho to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice with a goal of eventually attending law school. In a note to the board of Women Honoring Women, Kaylee expressed gratitude for awarding her this scholarship.
“Thank you all for recognizing me for this incredible scholarship in the midst of starting my new and much anticipated journey. I appreciate every piece of it. … Thank you to the women recognized (as Women of Wisdom) for being great examples set forth to others to be reminded to always live their life with grace and wisdom. It is because of women like you that allow me to push forth to achieve my goals every day with integrity and dignity.”
Do you know of a woman at least 65 years of age who is deserving of the recognition of becoming a Woman of Wisdom? The deadline for nomination letters is quickly approaching. Please submit your nomination letter postmarked no later than March 1 and mail it to 1481 Wrenco Loop Road, Sandpoint, ID 83864. You can also email your nomination letters to WomenHonoringWomen@gmail.com. The letter of nomination must include the nominator’s name, email address and phone number; the nominee’s name, mailing address, phone number and email; and a narrative describing how the nominee meets each of the criteria.
The Gala Luncheon and Program will be held on Saturday, May 11, from 11am to 1:30pm at the Ponderay Events Center. Tickets are $30 and sell out quickly. To reserve your ticket, contact Diane Arrants at Diane.Arrants@gmail.com.
If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund for Women of Wisdom, please send your donation to Women Honoring Women, 1481 Wrenco Loop Road, Sandpoint, ID 83864.