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Exceptional women

Awards banquet a smashing success

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Two local women connected to Joint Base Lewis-McChord were recognized by the Soroptimist International (SI) of Olympia June 3.    

The banquet honored 19 exceptional, yet unsung, women who've gone above and beyond the call to make their community a better place in their professional careers or personal volunteer efforts. Detectives, new mothers, accountants, community activists, government representatives, comic shop owners, city planners and more, each of the awardees distinguished themselves in the eyes of the colleagues, family and friends that nominated them. Unsurprisingly, two military-affiliated women counted themselves among the honored.

As former cofounder and captain of the JBLM Chapter of Team RWB, awardee Flavia Hulsey recruited the first members and team leaders to the social and physical activity-themed veterans outreach program and helped grow the local chapter to encompass over 800 members and counting, all while working as a public affairs specialist at JBLM and volunteering in several other civic outreach organizations. Hulsey only recently stepped down as chapter captain in order to focus on raising her newborn daughter, yet still serves on the Board of Directors and as social committee manager and advisor to the current chapter captain.

Awardee Holly Constantine also wears many helmets. In addition to serving as vice president of the DuPont subchapter of the Association of the United States Army, Constantine serves on the Board of Directors for the Olympia Master Builders, previously served on the Auburn Mountainview Booster Club, and chaired the auction committees for both groups. Constantine also volunteers with the JBLM wing of the Single Soldier Project, which provides baskets of essential toiletries and other supplies to unmarried soldiers returning from deployment.

SI of Olympia gathered at the Indian Summer Golf and Country Club for its South Sound Exceptional Woman Awards Banquet. The soon-to-be annual affair got off to a rocky start however, as it was originally planned for early May before inclement weather necessitated rescheduling it to early June. Unseasonable setbacks notwithstanding, Fundraising Chair Karen Hall was pleased with the group's inaugural effort.

"We've had a lot of very good responses." Hall said. "We felt like the response was everything we were hoping for - awardees feeling honored, nominating agencies feeling like we did them justice (...) Overall, people were very excited about doing this again next year."

Soroptimist. A $10 word if ever there was one. Of course, it's really not fair to call it that when it's actually a portmanteau of two other words - soror and optima, (Latin for "sister" and "best" respectively. Loosely translated, " best for women.") And while it finds its roots in a millennia-old dead language, the word "soroptimist" is only just now closing in on its centennial.

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