Mother and daughter distinguish themselves as role models to other women
If you go
Who: YWCA of Rock County
What: 37th Annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 13.
Where: Holiday Inn Express & Janesville Conference Center, 3100 Wellington Place, Janesville.
Reservations: $30 for YWCA members; $35 for non-members; $50 for mother/daughter or son age 5 to 18; reserved group table of 10 is $325 before May 1 and $350 after. Presenting sponsorships are available for $1,000 and include a table of 10. Call (608) 752-5445 before May 9 or register online at ywcawomenofdistinction.com and mail payment to YWCA, 1735 S. Washington St., Janesville, WI 53546. Reservations will be held at the door.
A native of Iran who's lived in Janesville since 1995 is one of this year's YWCA Women of Distinction. Jaleh Dabiri will be recognized at the 37th annual luncheon Friday, May 13, at the Holiday Inn Express and Janesville Conference Center. Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Tuesday's Janesville Gazette.
A Craig High School senior is among this year's YWCA Women of Distinction. Minaliza Shahlapour will be recognized at the 37th annual luncheon Friday, May 13, at the Holiday Inn Express and Janesville Conference Center. Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Tuesday's Janesville Gazette.
JANESVILLE Passionate, respectful and empowering.
Enthusiastic, committed and intelligent.
The first three words describe Jaleh Dabiri.
The second set characterizes her daughter Minaliza Shahlapour.
Both women are among this year’s YWCA Women of Distinction award recipients. All six recipients will be recognized at the 37th annual luncheon Friday, May 13, at the Holiday Inn Express and Janesville Conference Center.
The honor is given to women and girls who have distinguished themselves through leadership, personal achievement or volunteer work in the community, said Allison Hokinson, YWCA of Rock County executive director.
“This is our first mother-daughter in the same year recipient,’’ Hokinson said.
Jaleh is being recognized in the community category, while Minaliza is receiving the young woman of distinction honor, Hokinson said.
Each received seven nominations praising their school and community involvement.
Jaleh knew her daughter was nominated, and Minaliza knew her mother was nominated. Each even wrote a letter supporting the other. So when Jeanne Carfora delivered the news both had been named Women of Distinction, they were shocked.
“It was a very funny moment,” Jaleh said.
Minaliza said she was “really happy and honored” but wondered what she had done to deserve such recognition.
Santo Carfora, who has known Minaliza since she was in elementary school, had plenty of praise in his nomination letter for the 17-year-old Craig High School senior.
“Minaliza is a well-rounded, academically excellent person who is willing to share her skills and talents for the betterment of her school and community,’’ he wrote.
He described Minaliza as a conscientious, cooperative, honest, trustworthy and caring person who takes on leadership roles and serves as a role model.
“She also has the utmost respect of the adults in her life, including her parents, teachers and community members,’’ he said.
Minaliza is active in Amnesty International, peer tutoring, co-facilitating student Human Relations Club workshops, attending leadership workshops through Rotary and county board meetings to promote the naming of a local road Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive.
She also has participated and attended Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative programs, is a member of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Gay Straight Alliance and the Diversity Action Team.
Minaliza said it’s a wonderful feeling helping others.
“It just goes to show when you’re doing something for someone else, it is rewarding, provides inner satisfaction and makes you feel good,’’ she said.
Jeanne Carfora, who has known Jaleh for more than a decade wrote in her nomination letter that Jaleh “embodies the YWCA mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.’’
Jaleh, native of Iran, gives programs about her culture and Muslim faith at schools and in the community and participates in the Diversity Action Team.
“She is always willing to share her culture with the community in an effort to teach and create a better understanding among all people. Her life exemplifies her belief of treating everyone with respect and dignity,’’ Jeanne said.
Jaleh empowers women about justice and world peace, Jeanne Carfora said.
“She is a role model for her daughter, to other youth, students, teachers and community members. She brings out the best in everyone she relates to and gives you a sense of knowing yourself better and feeling empowered to make a difference in ‘your’ world,’’ she wrote.
Jaleh, 58, is paraprofessional in the Janesville School District and shares her passion of diversity with children in the schools, the Academy of International Studies and throughout the community, Jeanne said.
Involvement in the Diversity Action Team helped Jaleh connect to others in Janesville, where she said everything initially was alien to her upon her arrival from Iran in 1995.
Instead of getting upset about those who don’t understand her or where she comes from, Jaleh reaches out to them.
“I love people. It’s excitement for me to see how different people are, but at the same time how connected we are,’’ she said.
WOMEN OF DISTINCTION
Below are comments gleaned from nominations letters written about others receiving Women of Distinction honors:
When a fleet of buses carrying local soldiers traveled down Milton Avenue last year as thousands of people cheered them on, little recognition went to the organizer of the effort.
Lucy Anderson, advertising/events manager at Kutter Harley-Davidson, led the cause with a committee of volunteers on her own time. With the help of her family, she was responsible for hanging yellow ribbons along the parade route, but she didn’t stop there.
Anderson has been involved in arranging troop send-offs and several welcome-home celebrations. She is also co-founder and member of Veterans United for Veterans—a group comprising veterans from all organizations working to maintain the valor and recognition for veterans, locally and nationally—and organizes annual ceremonies to honor them.
In her job at Kutter, Anderson has welcomed nonprofits with personal and business offerings. From donations of product, to hosting events, to assisting with marketing, Anderson leads with her heart for her community.
It was her heart that compelled her to help Feathered Friends Sanctuary and Rescue. The nonprofit organization dedicated to bird rescue and rehabilitation, sought out Anderson for guidance on brand identity and event development. Anderson ended up joining the organization’s board of directors.
Anderson also has been involved in the Alzheimer's Support Center’s Dancing with the Stars fundraiser, the YWCA’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event and the Muscular Dystrophy Association Tub Run that has raised more than $1.6 million dollars for MDA and consistently ranks No. 2 in the country in the Harley family for raising the most funds. She was a Forward Janesville ambassador and earned the 2009 Laborfest Goodwill Ambassador Award for her years of service to the community.
As regional marketing and community relations manager at M&I Bank, Cheryl Peterson keeps 16 bank branches in 12 markets informed and enthused about banking campaigns, public relations and community events. Peterson is sought out in the community for help with fundraisers, activities, boards or advice on marketing ideas.
Peterson is a graduate of Janesville’s Leadership Development Academy and led the effort to explore a children’s museum project. Although the project is still in the formation stage, her leadership, research and commitment to it remains strong.
Peterson serves on the board of Janesville Presents!—a local organization that brings professional performing arts to the Janesville Performing Arts Center—and helped develop community focus groups to strengthen the group’s offerings while meeting the needs and interests of local residents.
Her passion for making the local community better is apparent through her dedication to JPAC and her support of Rotary Botanical Gardens, where she serves on the annual dinner dance fundraiser committee.
Serving on her workplace Regional Diversity & Inclusion Council, Peterson keeps diversity and acceptance at the top of her list of values because she realizes too few minority and disabled children get involved in the performing arts and because her daughter Monica is cognitively disabled and visually impaired.
Peterson has assisted with Rock County 5.0, volunteers with United Way of North Rock County, the American Red Cross South Central Wisconsin Chapter, her church and the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin Women’s Fund. She was featured as one of the Gazette’s People Who Matter.
Holcombe worked 32 years at the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and earned Teacher of the Year at the state level in 2000 and national level in 2001.
But perhaps the most effective teaching she has done has been in her private and community lives.
Holcombe exemplifies humanitarian effort and is a constant promoter of peace and justice by advocating for those in need. The adoption of her daughter Mila turned the effort into a personal one.
Two years after traveling to war-torn Nicaragua in 1984 with Witness for Peace, she adopted a 2-year-old. Shortly after returning to the United States, Mila was diagnosed with cognitive disabilities and special needs.
Holcombe made it her personal mission to continue giving back, sharing her advocacy with others and promoting peace, justice and diversity. She serves on the congregational council at St. John Lutheran Church and is active with the social ministry planning group that helps coordinate its school breakfast club and other local and global ministries of the congregation.
Holcombe is the assistant agency manager for the Janesville Area Special Olympics, in which she started the Athlete Leadership Program. She has been treasurer of the Janesville Church Women United, is secretary of the Thursday Noon Optimist Club and serves on the Rock Valley Fellowship of Reconciliation Steering Committee.
HospiceCare started in the 1980s serving one family with a few nurses, physicians and volunteers, but has grown to serve thousands of families annually. It could be called the mother of the local hospice movement. The agency’s values are compassion, stewardship, collaboration, integrity and excellence.
Among the organization’s 552 employees, 483 are women, and 81 percent of HospiceCare’s 150 volunteers are women. The organization has 17 of its 21 leadership positions filled by women.
HospiceCare offers its employees extensive health and wellness programs on site and off, supports on-going personal and professional development and educational opportunities and encourages staff participation in local community events.
Recognizing that 84 percent of caregivers in Rock County are female, the organization offers educational and support programs to respond to their needs and interests.
HospiceCare also advocates for legislation supporting end-of-life care, and is a United Way program partner.