Women Of The Week
Paula Ruth is an active member of her community and involved in the Women of Color for Change. She encourages people in her community to engage in physical activity, to eat healthier, to take care of the environment, and go to church. She recently received her high school equivalency degree in 2013 and last year she was trained as a leader in Diabetes Self-Management Workshops. She has already led one workshop at Mt. Tabor Baptist Church. Originally from New York, this city gal is very happy with her move to West Virginia, calling it “the most beautiful state of all the United States.” A big dreamer and planner, she would like to start growing wheat grass and start a healthy smoothie food truck. We are looking forward to trying those healthy treats! She is currently looking forward to adding some color to her home, painting some brightness over the current white walls.
Barbara Elliott was nominated because of her efforts in relocating the Greenbrier County Library into the beautiful space it now occupies. She was a trustee of the library at the time and did public relations for the capital campaign as a volunteer. She previously worked as the director of Alumni Relations and Continuing Medical Education at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, during which time she helped organize the Women on Wellness event series. These events promote healthy lifestyles for women of all ages. She helped create the Women’s Fund at the Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation. The fund makes grants in support of projects that support the education, health, and well-being of women throughout our area. She has also served on the board of Habitat for Humanity. In her retirement, she writes feature articles and a column for the Greenbrier Valley Quarterly Magazine. A resident of Frankford, she shares that she loves her small local Post Office “where you never have to wait in line and there are Tootsie Rolls for the taking.”
Joan C. Browning is a resident heroine for civil rights. She is most famous for being one of four southern White women of the 1961 Freedom Riders. She recently accepted her second appointment as Commissioner, WV Human Rights Commission. She is the First Business Manager of Williamsburg and Hillsboro Health Clinics; serves as one of three organizers of Greater Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation; served thirteen years as Development Director, Greenbrier Community College Foundation where she successfully fundraised for renovations and scholarships; served as a two-term Trustee of Greenbrier County Public Library; two years as president of Ronceverte/Fairlea Little League where she quadrupled the number of children involved; revived our local Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commemoration; she served seven years as president of Greenbrier County Committee on Aging and five years Special Assistant to the Hon. Andy Pendleton, mayor of Rainelle; and in her sparse free time she works as a producer, scriptwriter, a narrator of films, and a guest lecturer at various venues. A believer in the Matthew 25 pledge, she tries to show kindness to all of creation, noting the possible exception of rabid wildlife.
Kenosha Davenport is the Executive Director of the Family Refuge Center, serving in that position since February of 2015. She is also a Board member and Treasurer for the Greenbrier County Health Alliance. Originally from Alabama, Kenosha studied psychology and sociology from University of Alabama in Huntsville and then received her MBA from Maryhurst University. She has worked for years in the field of sexual assault and non-profits. She moved to Ronceverte with her three children for the position at FRC. She loves the sense of community here. Her favorite thing to do with her free time is fishing; she loves water and being outdoors. To learn more about the Family Refuge Center, call 304-645-6334 or visit www.familyrefugecenter.org. Later this week, they are co-sponsoring a training for first responders and others who may interact with sexual assault survivors, Moving from Cooperation to Collaboration.
Gloria Martin served as the director of the Family Refuge Center from 2003 to 2008, after starting work there in 1986, and currently manages the Lewisburg Food Pantry with her husband. The Food Pantry serves about 200 families a month. She also serves on the Greenbrier County Committee on Aging with a special interest in senior’s nutrition issues and she facilitates the Greenbrier County Elder Abuse Awareness Committee, which has monthly meetings and offers trainings. One of her proudest accomplishments is participating in the United Nation’s 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995. She previously served as co-chair of the WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence and has received the Diane Reese “Excellence in Advocacy in the Movement” and WV State Bar Association Public Citizen Award. She is featured in a short film by B. J. Gudmundsson titled Listen to Women detailing her social justice philosophy.
Diana Godbey is a dedicated public servant who lives to improve the quality of life of those in her community. She works as a RN at Home Care Plus, a job she has held since 1989, and is a beloved Board member of the Greenbrier County Health Alliance. She is also on the Board of Directors and is a volunteer for Wellsprings of Greenbrier, a non-profit that works to improve the condition of and feed the working poor and homeless in our county, particularly on the Western end. She is the Chair for the Lewisburg United Methodist Church Mission, which works to raise funds for the ongoing 2016 flood relief efforts. She is most proud of her two children who have continued in the helping and caring footsteps of their mother; one works as a speech therapist and one is completing his residency in internal medicine.
Heather Hanna is the Business Development Manager at the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. Twelve years as a business owner makes her very effective in this position; she is well aware of the needs and struggles of small business owners. Her current work focuses on developing local agriculture and connecting farmers directly to the local market to increase their sales and profits. This connection also benefits consumers as they gain access to fresh healthy food. She is most proud of adopting her two beautiful sons. When she has free time - which is sparse nowadays with her two young boys - she enjoys being outside, hiking, fishing, and reading. Happiness, she says, is not about having all the things you desire, but about learning to be content with the things you already have.
Kay Davis is a WVU Extension Agent, a Board member of the Health Alliance, and a force for positive and healthy change in our community. A resident of Frankford, she is well-known around the county for her creative and thought provoking activates at local health fairs and festivals. Her Rethink Your Drink stand is quite popular: she offers fruit-infused water as a delicious alternative to sugary sodas. She also does Dining with Diabetes Cooking Schools, Energy Express, Healthy Lifestyle trainings, food safety trainings, as well as Greenbrier County Community Education Outreach Services (CEOS), which promotes lifelong learning. You can request any of her fun and inspiring services through the Extension office. When not helping and motivating others to live healthy, she likes to buy and sell antiques.
Erin Hurst is the Executive Director of the United Way of Greenbrier Valley. She works hard to support health-related programs and services through the Health Initiative of the United Way. Philanthropy and giving back is very important to her. In recognition of her efforts, she was recently selected as one of West Virginia State Journals 2017 Generation Next 40 Under 40. The Greenbrier Valley Quarterly also wrote her up for her tireless – and ongoing - efforts in last year’s flood response and recovery. She is involved in many community events and fundraisers; she is on the Power of the Purse Committee, the chair of the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, and recently established an Empty Bowls fundraiser in our area. This last fundraiser raises awareness on hunger in our area – keep an eye out for that event this November.
Yvonne L. Jones describes herself as a community organizer. She is an Alliance Ambassador to Women of Color for Change, a group that works to empower and improve the health of women of color in our county. In that effort, she has facilitated diabetes self-management workshops, developed weight loss challenges, and coordinated healthy cooking classes for her community. A resident of White Sulphur Springs, she is also dedicating her time to organizing a commemorative event for last year’s flood. A dedication event for a monument is around the corner – Friday, June 23rd at 3pm in Old Mill Park in White Sulphur Springs. Check out the Facebook event for more information. A spiritual woman, she co-teaches a Bible class once a week. When not dedicating her time to her community, she enjoys working in her garden, reading, and photography.
Adriana Grecu is the owner of the Salt Cave and Spa and is working to establish a farmer’s market and farm-to-table conscious restaurant in White Sulphur Springs. Health through food and creating a space for the discussion of our relationship to food are a central focus for her and her efforts. She loves the camaraderie of her community; she noted how people in her area have great hearts and support each other. She hopes to see the area revitalized with local businesses and healthy community activity. The Farmer’s Market in White Sulphur Springs is starting this Thursday 3-6:30pm in the park across from Pizza Hut in WSS, be sure to check it out! Also keep an eye out for her new restaurant which plans to be opened this summer.
Fawn Valentine has retired from a career in social work to fill her days with community organizing. She works hard on her goals of protecting natural resources, preserving historic sites and structures, advocating for good broadband coverage throughout the County, and providing a healthy and supportive environment for children. She stays busy as the Chair of the Alderson Planning Commission, a member/volunteer for Alderson Main Street, the president of Alderson Renaissance Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors of Alderson Food Hub, and a member/volunteer for the Community Market Task Force. In 2000, she authored “West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers,” a book detailing the history of quiltmaking in our state, with oral histories from descendants of quiltmakers and photographs of various historic quilts.
A quilt with a heart, an image from her book
Sally Lane is an AmeriCorps for United Way of Greenbrier Valley and a vibrant advocate for reading. In addition to her WEekly READers article, which highlight local bookworms, she volunteers at Read Aloud programs and summer reading camps across the Valley. We love her definition of happiness: “Reading a book a day while sailing on a transatlantic cruise with family & friends.” This local bibliophile dreams of having small free libraries all over the county, giving everyone easy access to books and indoctrinating them into a love of reading. “It’s how we can continue to learn our whole lives,” she explains. When not reading, she sings with the Greenbrier Valley Chorale and ushers at the Greenbrier Valley Theatre.
Kim Estep is the Director of Marketing at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center. She is also the President of the Board of the Greenbrier County Health Alliance. She works on multiple initiatives to promote health in the Valley and focuses on the importance of prevention. Her hope for the future is built on teaching our youth about the importance of healthy lifestyles and behaviors. A humble woman, it was difficult to get her to brag about herself, but she talked at length about her pride in our community, describing it as a community that “truly cares.” When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.
Cheryl Workman is a driving force giving new life to the Renick Community Center. Her dream has been to create a place where her small community can come together and thrive. She strives to bring resources into her neighborhood and was recently awarded a grant by the Alliance to remodel the Community Center, creating a bigger space for community events. She has been organizing many events like monthly jam sessions, ice cream socials, and a crafts fair, and is looking forward to some exciting new events like a diabetes self-management course, health and wellness classes, and exercise classes. In her spare time, Cheryl enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, and playing with her five wonderful grandbabies.
Sonja Manspile is a health coach and substitute teacher with a passion for helping people improve their lives. She strives to help others take control of their own health by keeping them informed of community activities, working as a health coach, and offering a free Diabetes Self-Management class at Rainelle Medical Center. That is what the Health Alliance is all about! She also works with high school seniors, helping them develop skills like time management, organization, and job interviewing. Spare time is spent with her family, because as she says, “life is short.” She adds that “happiness is not smiling because your life is perfect, but because you are content with what God has given you!”
Judy Lohmeyer likes to describe herself as a “professional volunteer” and she definitely fits the bill! Heavily involved in her town of Alderson, she works with Master Gardner’s 4-H program at Alderson Elementary, works with the Community Education Outreach Services (CEOS) at the local as a volunteer and state level as a board member, and organizes a school supply and health kit give away every fall. She serves as a board member on the Alderson Community Center Board, the Alderson Library Board, and the Greenbrier County Health Alliance Board. She also helps her husband with their ministry at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church. When not giving back to the community that she loves, she is playing bridge, gardening, or bird watching from her back porch.
Janice Lynn Cooley is a multi-talented community organizer with a hobby of helping others understand their potential. She values every day and the people of her community, striving to help Greenbrier County “continue to grow and be recognized as a great place to live and learn.” She is involved in a number of local organizations, serving on the board for Community in Schools for Greenbrier County, Greenbrier County Historical Society, Women of Color for Change, Lewisburg Parks and Recreation, and Mt. Tabor Baptist Church Missionary Society. She also serves as the Ambassador for Women of Color for Change for the Health Alliance, collaborating with others to offer diabetes self-management and healthy eating classes in her community. An avid researcher of history, she curated an art exhibit in 2014-2015 that memorialized the African Americans that affected the growth and development of Greenbrier County post-Civil War to today. We are eager to see her turn it into a documentary!
Anne Canterbury is a retired RN and volunteer with the Renick Community Center. After a career of helping people, she has continued that work through volunteer efforts to make her community safe and healthy. It is the people that make her community special, she says. Anne defines happiness as “soul satisfaction” and knowing she is doing the best she can. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with others. Involved in many of the projects at the Community Center, she is currently working on starting a diabetes and healthy eating class. Stay tuned to the Community Center and Alliance Facebook pages for more information on that and other activities.
Jennifer Gilkerson of Alderson defines happiness as “appreciating what you have and doing nice things for people around you.” While her day job is at Sunset Berry Farms, Jennifer is active in her community, working to expand the local foods market and supporting the development of local agriculture. She dreams of making Greenbrier County and Alderson the strawberry capital of West Virginia and is the founder and major planner behind the Alderson Strawberry Festival, which is entering its second year after a very successful first year. This festival provides local non-profits a free venue to fund raise and provides local producers a place to sell their wares.