MARTINSBURG - A beloved Girl Scouts tradition was carried on Wednesday as three local women were honored for their remarkable achievements at The 2010 Women of Distinction Luncheon, held at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.
The event, hosted by the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital, was emceed by Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley.
Established in 2005, the luncheon celebrates three women who have been nominated by their peers for distinguishing themselves as community and business leaders, as well as role models for girls.
"The reason we're here today is to honor incredible women in our region," Shipley stated in her opening remarks.
"We feel that strong women make strong communities, and this is the perfect partnership between Girl Scouts and these women of distinction."
Those honored this year were Betty Lou Harmison, vice president of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs; Sheila M. Hamilton, advocate for education; and Rebecca "Becky" Linton, regional manager of City National Bank.
Diane Tipton, president of the GSCNC, described the past and present honorees as being "inspirational in all they do."
"They're of all ages, from all walks of life and they show the Girl Scouts of our region how to become the best they can be," Tipton said. "We feel that the Girl Scouts is the premiere leadership organization for all of our young women - and to be a part of this special event year after year, I think I have absolutely the best job in the whole wide world."
Jeanne Mozier, vice president of Travel Berkeley Springs, introduced Harmison to be recognized.
"It's hard to know what to say when you're describing a legend," Mozier said. "Betty Lou is a woman of grace, born and bred. She's a woman any of us would want to be like when we grow up."
Harmison, 84, was noted for her devotion to history, the arts, especially music, and for being named a West Virginia History Hero for her efforts to preserve and promote the Town of Bath.
Harmison is an active member of the Landmark Commission and assisted in getting Historic District status for Berkeley Springs. She works two jobs, selling art at the Ice House Artist Co-op Galley and serving as owner and operator of Bathkeepers Cottage.
"I was overcome when I learned I would be given this award," Harmison said. "Girl Scouts will be celebrating their 100 years and I'm almost there with them!"
Connie Perry, a 2009 Women of Distinction honoree, introduced Hamilton, by saying Hamilton was a woman who should get an "A" in all categories.
"I've worked with Sheila on various committees and it's always been a pleasure," Perry said, joking that she doubts there is another woman of distinction who can say she has carried the Olympic torch through Morgantown. "Her abilities have also been recognized by both Democratic and Republican governors of this state, and I think that's saying a lot."
Hamilton's involvement in education includes being elected president, vice president and secretary of the West Virginia Board of Education and serving on the West Virginia Holocaust Education Commission.
A proud mother of two daughters, she was inducted into the West Virginia Women's Hall of Fame and is currently the coordinator of the West Virginia Achievement Academy Program for Jefferson County.
"It's overwhelming (to be here today) and I just want to thank everyone for their generosity in making this possible," Hamilton said.
Lastly, Linton was introduced by Gina Miller, who was a 2009 Women of Distinction honoree.
"Becky has made such a significant impact on our community, bringing forth the full spectrum of human service," Miller said. "When I met her several years ago, I saw how energized she was and admired how, even though she gives so much of her time to help a lot of individuals, she wants to remain in the shadows for the things she does."
Linton, a graduate of Martinsburg High School and Shepherd College, is the founder and chair of the United Way's Christmas Cash for Kids Program, which provides assistance to more than 200 area children each holiday season.
She previously served on the board of Shepherd College Foundation and currently serves on the Main Street Martinsburg board. City National Bank employees named her Volunteer of the Year and she also was the West Virginia Main Street Board Member of the Year.
Like the two honorees who spoke prior to her, Linton used the word "overwhelming" to describe her honor.
"I'm so honored," she said. "I have a great family and I work for a wonderful company. I feel like I've won an Academy Award."
The Women of Distinction program supports the GSCNC Shenandoah Region Gold Award Scholarship, funded by Eva Woolridge and daughter Lynne Seibert of Martinsburg. The scholarships help local Girl Scouts who earned the Gold Award offset some of their college expenses. The net proceeds from the Women of Distinction event, up to $25,000, are matched by the Girl Scout Gold Award Scholarship Endowment challenge gift.
The Gold Award is the highest honor that can be achieved by a Girl Scout.
The Girl Scout 2010 Women of Distinction was sponsored by BCT, Bank of Charles Town; Pennington Auto; The Meltzer Group; and HMS Technologies Inc.
- Staff writer Erienne Maczuzak can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 183 or at firstname.lastname@example.org