Galentine’s Day was coined in 2010 by fictional character Leslie Knope, the protagonist of NBC’s sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” and the fictitious holiday has since become a celebrated tradition among many women – now you can purchase Galentine’s cards and gifts from big box stores for your best girl friends. The unofficial holiday is a play on Valentine’s Day, and instead of celebrating love and relationships, it’s all about women celebrating women on Feb. 13, or Valentine’s Day eve.
Denver Citizen hopped on board with the trend, and we’re celebrating some of the area’s most influential women over the next two weeks.
From educators and business owners to dedicated volunteers, here’s a look at part one of the female newsmakers list.
Anita McCall – McCall is Lincoln County’s only female commissioner, and is a “professional volunteer.” She serves on numerous boards such as the Lincolnton Steering Committee; the Lincolnton Strategic Economic Planning Coalition; the Gaston, Cleveland, Lincoln, Metropolitan Planning Organization and many others. McCall also founded the nonprofit Lincoln Lovely Ladies, a women’s group that now has more than 500 members. She was also a finalist for Lincoln County’s Woman of the Year and has represented the board of commissioners at local and national conferences and classes.
Deanna Rios – Rios is Lincoln County’s finance director and is responsible for tracking all of the county’s financial activities. She has served in this role for more than six years, and is instrumental in helping county government run smoothly.
Frances Goins – Goins opened Sweet Momma’s back in 2015 after more than 30 years in the corporate world. Through her craft studio, Goins works with other entrepreneurs in the area to host themed workshops and promote locally-owned businesses. She also organizes arts camps and painting events to help bring people of all ages together through art.
Kay Davis – Davis is a successful real estate agent with Lake Norman Realty but has been going beyond for her community for several years. She has been adorning the streets of Westport with American flags for more than 25 years, and while Davis originally did it because she wanted to attract new clients, her flags are now a community-wide Fourth of July tradition. With the help of others, she plants hundreds of flags throughout the Denver area to spread patriotism and holiday cheer.
Flo Ward – Ward is the owner and founder of We Chic’d It, a furniture redesign company she started more than five years ago. Ward’s business is focused on flipping furniture as a more eco-friendly way to decorate your home, but equipped with an art degree, she also loves teaching other “do it yourself” types the tricks of the trade. Ward has recently started hosting workshops at local businesses or via private lessons where people can learn how to update outdated home decor and flip furniture – no matter the location, Ward loves helping people accomplish projects on their own.
Celeste Frazier – Frazier is the current Lincoln County Special Olympics coordinator, a role she stepped into after 30 years of being an exceptional children teacher. She has championed for more opportunities for those with special needs. To help give adults with special needs something to look forward to, Frazier is working on a two-week summer program.
Staci Brice – Brice stepped into the role of volunteer coordinator for the Hesed House of Hope where she and her family have volunteered for years. Brice has helped expand the shelter’s services to bring those needing to get back on their feet as many resources as possible and helped give them positive experiences to look forward to, even during a difficult time. Brice is also an elementary school teacher in Catawba County.
Hannah Beaver – Beaver has served as director of Lincoln County Animal Services since 2016. During her time she has championed for the shelter to achieve no kill status and has made numerous changes, applied for several grants and has worked with county staff to help move closer to her goal. She recently helped secure $175,000 in grant funding through The Petco Foundation. Beaver was also awarded Lincoln County’s 2017 Manager of the Year for her efforts.
Sherry Reinhardt – Reinhardt is a children’s forensic interviewer and the director of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse & Child Advocacy Center. Through her roles, Reinhardt ensures that children visiting the center feel more safe, get connected to the resources they need and are heard. In 2017 Reinhardt helped organize a number of events benefiting the center, including a teddy bear drive.
Shasta Steele – Steele opened Amy’s Closet to benefits the area’s domestic violence shelter, Amy’s House. She founded the consignment boutique to help raise funds for the shelter and provide survivors with clothing, home goods and small appliances. Steele, a domestic violence survivor, is passionate about the cause and works to ensure others don’t have to experience what she went through. She is president of the board of directors for Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Celeste Renaldo – Renaldo, a successful business woman, has served on the board and on committees for the Rotary Club of Denver-Lake Norman for a number of years. She is perhaps most known for her involvement in Denver Days, which is held to bring the community together and help fund Rescue Squad Park in Denver.
Kathy Vinzant – Vinzant is the executive director for United Way of Lincoln County, which helps support nonprofits in the area. In 2017 Vinzant helped secure $ 37,481.10 in funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) and some state funding to help the Hesed House of Hope in its effort to become a year-round homeless shelter.
Susan McCracken – McCracken has served as the director of Social Services for Lincoln County for the last decade. She works to ensure the adults, families, elderly and children in the area have access to the tools they need to succeed. One program she oversees is the Work First Program, which helps provide some income and teaches people how to enter the workforce with the goal of ending the poverty cycle in mind.
Lory Morrow – Morrow began her tenure as superintendent of Lincoln County Schools in August of last year. Before joining LCS, Morrow served as Davidson County’s first female superintendent. Morrow began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher, and has served schools in a variety of roles since. During her time with LCS, Morrow has completed her 100 day plan, a sort of information gathering and research period, and has started improving upon what she found as areas for growth. Morrow also serves of the United Way of Lincoln County’s board of directors, representing LCS.
Dana Ayers – Ayers is the principal at Lincolnton Middle School, which houses all of Lincoln County’s special needs students. She has spearheaded the effort to build a multi-thousand dollar playground with adaptive equipment for those with special needs. Ayers has been working with her staff to fundraise thousands, as the school is responsible for footing to $30,000-plus bill when the project is all said and done. No matter how lofty the goal may seem, Ayers doesn’t seem intimidated and continues to advocate for her students. Ayers also won the 2017 Wachovia Teacher of the Year award.
Beth Penley – Penley serves as Asbury Academy’s principal and through her role, she has helped create more opportunities for middle- and high-schoolers who are on alternative path. Penley’s goal is to empower all students to work toward graduation, no matter their needs. She oversees a number of programs provided by the school, including grief counseling, anger management, teen parent support groups and more.
Stephani Clark – Clark was recently named the 2017-18 EC Educator of Excellence for Lincoln County Schools and was recognized in November at the North Carolina Department Public Instruction (NCDPI) EC conference. Clark, a teacher at St. James Elementary, serves as a guide for many EC teachers across the county, by practicing evidence-based practices, sharing intimately familiar knowledge or curricula and training others in corrective reading, reading mastery and other literacy tactics geared toward EC students. She’s been an educator for almost 20 years. One of her proudest moments was seeing her first class graduate from high school.
Cathy Davis – Davis sits on the Lincoln County Board of Education and is the executive director of the Lincoln Cultural Center. Davis organizes a number of arts related events and classes annually to showcase local talent and help give citizens a space to explore their creative interests.
Jin Williams – Williams is the sole owner and artist for Jin’s Art Studio, a mobile painting workshop. She donates at least 20 percent of her earnings to a new charity each month – supporting anything from suicide prevention to human trafficking relief. From inspiring her clients to become confident artists to hosting fundraisers, Williams aims to give back to the community in a number of ways.
Patty Korn – Korn can be seen picking up litter throughout the Denver area almost any day of the week and to aid environmental protections, she helped create Keep Lincoln County Beautiful. Korn works with county staff, commissioners and environmental groups, like the Catawba River Keepers, to improve the quality of life in Lincoln County. Korn has inspired others to join her efforts and continuously works to ensure that any environmental impacts are considered, especially as development is on the rise.
Avery Wilson – Wilson is a fifth-grader at Pumpkin Center Intermediate who has been undergoing chemotherapy at the Levine Cancer Institute for the last several months. Though Wilson, 11, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) last year, her spirits have rarely waivered since, and she always encourages people to look on the bright side. With her family and fury companion, Ruby, by her side, Wilson is empowered to look forward and recommends others in difficult situations do the same.
Wendy Henson – Henson, a parent at St. James Elementary School, recently took over the school’s annual holiday pop-up shop, Santa’s Workshop, to offer students higher quality more affordable options. Henson’s main goal was to ensure every child in the school had the opportunity to shop for Christmas gifts, regardless of their family’s financial situation. Henson helped create Santa Bucks so children from families with limited income were able to pick out presents for their loved ones free of charge. The entire process was handled discreetly so no child feels embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Rhonda Franklin/Chanda Courtney – Franklin and Courtney both sit on the Pumpkin Center Primary School Parent Teacher Organization board. In honor of Kandace Helms, their friend and a fellow board member, they created A Gift of Reading, which helps give more students the opportunity to take home books from the Scholastic Book Fair. Anywhere from 100-200 students benefit from the program each year and are able to take home books – an opportunity they might not have otherwise. Courtney also helped organize the annual Kandace Helms 5K which benefits the East Lincoln Optimist Club and the Gift of Reading program. The race also helps fund $1,000 scholarships for two East Lincoln High School seniors.