Tuesday’s Women of Achievement luncheon honored eight women who are making a difference in the North Platte community.
“You are all sitting in this room because you are doing work that matters,” local businesswoman Shae Caldwell told the Women of Achievement nominees and attendees there to support them. “The growth of women’s leadership is essential to the future well-being of our community and you all have a hand in that.”
Caldwell shared an encouraging message: You don’t have to “do it all,” and you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
“With enough organization, time management and delayed gratification, we can fit into other people’s definition of having it all,” said Caldwell, who was a 2020 Woman of Achievement in business. “But if you define your all, you are able to maintain balance — and focus on the things that are important to you.”
“Rely on your tribe” for support, she said.
She shared her own struggles when her son suffered a brain injury and subsequent narcotics addiction after he was hit by a car while skateboarding. “I spent five years trying to handle it on my own because I thought that’s what I had to do.
“I was judged and criticized quite a bit, which really made me angry and feel even more alone,” she said. “Thank goodness for the women who put themselves in my face and said we will hold you up when you feel like you’re going to crumble.”
Holding up a paper-doll-style cutout she called her “assistant,” she asked audience members to call out negative things they have heard or said about other women or have told themselves. With each comment, she tore off the legs, arms and head of the cutout. Then she asked for examples of encouraging words and taped the cutout back together.
“While the negatives tear us apart and destroy us, the positives build us back up and put us back together,” she said.
She urged the audience to celebrate each other all the time — “not only on this day — although this day is pretty cool” — and empower others and themselves.
“While it can be tough to be a woman in leadership in today’s society and we are sometimes overlooked, don’t allow the situations around you cause you to compromise where you stand,” she said. “Hold your ground, have unshakable belief and create change. Get involved. Don’t stand back. Be proactive. Continue to lead the change. Be the change.”
After Caldwell’s speech, the 2021 Women of Achievement were named. They are: Robyn Foote, business; Paulette Stefka, cultural arts; Kimberly Flanders, education; Laurie Jones, government; Jenny Lantis and Jasmine Hahn (nominated as a team), medical; Jenny Bonta, social services; and Alyssa Fabik, volunteer.
The Women of Achievement awards are sponsored by The North Platte Telegraph and NebraskaLand National Bank.