In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day 2014! Worcester celebrates!

Parlee and Athena!

By Parlee Jones

We must CELEBRATE!  I had the honor of being Honorably Mentioned as a 2014 Woman of Consequence Award presented by the City Manager’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women this past Thursday (March 20th, 2014) with my friend Ms. Athena Haddon as the chosen one.

This celebration of the Women and Young Women of Consequence provides an opportunity for the City Manager’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women to educate the public about the contributions that women and young women make to improve communities and to inspire others. Their leadership can be shown in community activism, volunteering or holding public office, but it can also be shown when women, young and old, lead by example. Community engagement, dedication, and compassion resulting in positive change is what a real leader is all about.

Woman of Consequence – 2014

Athena Haddon

Ms. Haddon has inspired many people through her patience, honesty, trust and perseverance. As a dedicated employee, volunteer and resident of Worcester, she is a role model to all around her. She has been called the “heart and soul” of Everyday Miracles, a peer recovery support center in downtown Worcester, serving more than 3,000 diverse members in recovery from alcohol and /or drug addiction every year.

One of Athena’s leadership initiatives includes the founding of “Women’s Space” to help more women in early recovery to access services. She also became active with Worcester’s Department of Public Health Task Force on Sexual Exploitation to address serious health implications of sex trafficking in the local community. Prevention and intervention strategies were developed to eliminate sex trafficking and exploitation in Worcester. This led to her founding “A Ray of Light” to train service providers to work with victims and survivors of sexual exploitation. She has volunteered and worked for nearly a decade for DAWN, Developing Alternatives for Women Now, which works with women in prostitution-related crimes. Athena is a voice of compassion and positive change, and a true leader in her community. It is hard to capture on paper all her accomplishments, her enthusiasm and her genuine compassion for helping others.

Parlee Jones

Another extremely inspiring woman in our community is the well-known Ms. Parlee Jones, is creative and active in many domains as well as being a dedicated leader called “exemplary and tireless” in her work on behalf of the homeless, and the battered women with and without children whom she helps on a daily basis. She has assisted over 700 women to self-direct their lives and improve their situations. Through her passionate guidance, support, and empathy to all the women she helps, she improves the lives of those around her. Her accomplishments listed above would be incomplete if her work on social and racial equality in the community were not mentioned. Parlee founded OurStory Edutainment nearly a decade ago which offers black history education and entertainment. It is truly a multicultural asset that makes the city more global, and makes Parlee a true leader.

Young Woman of Consequence – 2014

Jenny Cao

Jenny Cao, currently a Senior at South High, is a student in the Goddard Scholars Program. An outstanding student, she’s taken many Honors and Advanced Placement level classes since her Freshman year. She consistently scored yearly grades in the very high ‘90s and even a few 100s. A National Honor Society Member, she also created the Goddard Tutoring Club, is a member of the Yearbook Club, and she is also on the Math Team. She’s played 1st Doubles on the Varsity Tennis Team and is a well-rounded student. Jenny demonstrates leadership qualities and is a role model in her service to the community.

Rose Payva

Rose Payva, a Senior at North High, is an excellent student, having consistently scored high grades in all classes including many Honors and Advanced Placement classes. She founded the Principal’s Advisory Council, was a participant in the National Education Start-Up Challenge, and has been a member of the Math team since her Sophomore year. Rose is a well-rounded leader; the Captain of the Soccer and Tennis Teams, a participant in Dynamy Youth Academy, and a Peruvian Cultural Dancer. Rose is a dedicated role model to those around her.

Congratulations to all!  Below are some words on being Honorably Mentioned.

“I am honored and humbled by this honorable mention and in keeping in tune with the award, I will honorably mention some folks.

I will honorably mention the homeless men, women and families that are looking for a safe place to rest their heads tonight. Please keep them in your thoughts.

I will honorably mention the families that have lost loved ones to racial violence. Trayvon Martin’s family, Jordan Davis’ family, and all other unnamed loved ones. Please keep in prayer the many unnamed victims.

I will honorably mention the men and women that work tirelessly to find a place for families to go. Who go to their own homes with an ache in their heart because they don’t know where that last client will go tonight with her little one. Please send them positive energy and vibes.

I will honorably mention all who work to show our youth that you can be successful without falling victim to today’s norms. To those who work with youth where they are! Pease send blessings their way!

I will honorably mention OurStory Edutainment which is the vehicle in which I strive to instill knowledge of self in people of color. Young and old who have not heard of Ida B Wells or Denmark Vesey.  As we introduce them to a rich history not taught in school books.

And I will honorably mention Abby House as the vehicle in which I have been able to assist the most honorable women I have met on a journey not easily taken. The journey back to a home.

Thank you Lynne for nominating me and thanks to my village for supporting all I do.  Because it takes a village to take care of its people, young and old.  I am so humbled to have a village that sees the world as I do. And strives to make positive change when called upon.
Peace and blessed be!”


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