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International Women's Day Celebration

Marilyn Wiles, founder of Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute (EWLI) welcoming guests
Marilyn Wiles, founder of Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute (EWLI) welcoming guests
Michael Isam

By Michael Isam

St. Augustine, Fla, (March 12, 2014) – “Women of Strength: Past, Present and Future” was the theme for the Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute 14th annual International Women's Day Celebration held at Marsh Creek Country Club on Tuesday evening.

The room was packed as the annual event is one of special meaning to EWLI and the women leaders in the St. Johns County area. “It is hard to believe this is 14th year in St. Augustine and the 30th year for EWLI,” said Marilyn Wiles, founder of the organization.

“Women of Strength: Past, Present, and Future”

The keynote speaker for this years event was Dr. Lawanda Ravoira, President and CEO
Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center in Jacksonville. Dr. Ravoira spoke about changing not only how the young women see themselves, but how the world sees them. “There is a stigma,” said Ravoira, “that surrounds young women who have been classified as “in trouble, on the verge of trouble, delinquent, and incarcerated.” “This view,” continued Ravoira, “is based on where these women are physically seen. These are their current circumstances, not who they are.” “We at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center are working to change this pattern. See the girl, see the potential.”

The honorees for EWLI's ‘Women Leaders Making a Difference’ who have, for many years, made a difference in the quality of life for all residents of St. Johns County were:

Nettie Ruth Brown - Emeritus, Extension Family Consumer Agent of the University of Florida
Patricia Laurencelle - Emeritus, St. Johns County Library Advisory Board
Susan Parker - Executive Director, The St. Augustine Historical Society
Melanie Cain-Stage - Founder, HAWKE
Anne Kraft and Jean Rahner - Co-Founders, Limelight Theatre of St. Augustine

The Barrie Higgins High School Seniors Leadership Award recipients were selected by their school counselors as outstanding young women leaders in their respective schools and communities," stated Margaret Wiles, a member of the EWLI Board of Directors. In addition, each senior received scholarship assistance provided by EWLI and St. Johns County Sheriff's Office 4 Star Association represented by Sergeant Catherine Payne were:

Sarah Ilaria - Bartram Trail High School
Margaret Leach - homeschooler nominated by Chris Man
Sarah Schreck - Creekside High School
Katie Wyatt - Allen D. Nease High School

Present with Ms. Susan James of Student Travel & Exchange Programs (STEP)were two exchange students. One from Russia hosted by the Sybille and John Lucas family of Palm Coast and one from Spain hosted by the Chris and Mary Ann Magnell family of Palm Coast.
EWLI works with The Wildflower Clinic to help raise the community's awareness of the need for free dental care to those who cannot afford it and continues its support for SJC Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition.