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Honoring Our ‘Women Of Distinction’

By Senator Patty Ritchie
From introducing laws that make our state a better place, to  listening to the concerns of my constituents, my duties as your State Senator run the gamut.

One of my favorite parts of the job?  Honoring the people in our communities who make a difference each and every day.

This year's "Women of Distinction" honorees
This year's "Women of Distinction" honorees

It’s always extra special for me when I get to honor women for the work that they have done to make our region a better place.

Last week, I had the privilege of recognizing nearly one dozen women from Central and Northern New York at my “Women of Distinction” ceremony in Watertown.

The women honored were all nominated for the  State Senate’s 2012 “Women of Distinction;” a program honoring women’s history in New York State by recognizing outstanding leaders and everyday citizens who are making a difference.

From surviving cancer to transforming a St. Lawrence County library from a little used building into a hub of the community; the women honored represent a wide variety of accomplishments..  One thing they have in common though, is that they’re making a difference.

Of the nominees, Fulton’s Jan Rebeor was selected as the “Women of Distinction,” and was honored at a special ceremony held in Albany last month.  Mrs. Rebeor is a life-long resident of Oswego County, who beat the odds and overcame cancer.  She is retired from Ed Vayner & Associates, and gives back to her community in countless ways—everything from helping with Fulton’s Project Bloom to the United Way Stone Soup Luncheons.

The accomplishments of these women are significant, but they didn’t do it alone. When you look back through history, it’s easy to see that they had a number of women laying the groundwork for them to make a difference.

In Central New York, Dr. Mary Walker of Oswego, is known as the only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor; America’s highest military award.

In Northern New York, Rhoda Fox-Graves, a suffragist and woman’s rights activist from St. Lawrence County,  made history when she went on to become the first woman ever to serve in the New York State Senate.

While I had the honor of acknowledging a small group of women for their contributions to their community, there is without a doubt many, many more women in our area deserving of recognition.

To those women reading this, thank you for all you do, and keep up the good work!