The Girl Scouts of Central Texas honored five local women and The Eagle on Thursday evening as part of the 26th annual Women of Distinction awards, recognizing the group for service and for inspiring the next generation of female leaders.
"I cannot think of a better way than [with] Women of Distinction to honor women in our community who are doing hard work to inspire our future leaders," said the event's emcee, local radio producer Mary "Mike" Hatcher, at the banquet at the College Station Hilton.
Among those honored were Brazos County Commissioner Irma Cauley; business owner Jeanie Price; longtime educator and coach Imogene Vetters; Texas A&M University dean Sharon Wilkerson; and KBTX-TV anchor Kathleen Witte. The Eagle was honored as a workplace of distinction.
Cauley served as a Girl Scout through her senior year of high school and went on to serve as director of the Girls Club of Bryan. She received two college degrees, including a bachelor's in criminal justice, and worked as a juvenile probation officer for many years. Today, she is the first African-American female commissioner in Brazos County, and she volunteers her time with education-based organizations.
"I graduated high school wearing my Girl Scout uniform in 1968 because I was so proud to be a Girl Scout and to be in a healthy, positive environment," Cauley told the audience of Girl Scout supporters.
"... Deep down in my heart, I am fired up about the possibilities that we have in this community [today]."
Price owns Mad Hatter's Tea Room in downtown Caldwell. She spent much of her life working as a nurse, helping others with her caring and positive attitude. In the late 1990s she opened her restaurant and began pushing for the Texas Historical Commission to recognize Caldwell as a Main Street City. Her restaurant has been recognized as business of the year, and she also has supported numerous women's organizations and charities. On stage at the Hilton, Price teared up as she thanked her friends and family for years of support.
"Thank you for believing in my crazy ideas," she told the audience.
Vetters served as a teacher for nearly four decades and coached countless teams within the high schools where she's been employed. She was repeatedly recognized as an outstanding teacher by numerous entities and is credited with working to establish the Boys and Girls Club of the Brazos Valley and the Salvation Army Woman's Auxiliary.
"I am so touched to be here, being honored by Girl Scouts," Vetters said. "I have six granddaughters who are currently, or have been, a Girl Scout."
Wilkerson, founding dean of Texas A&M's College of Nursing, also was celebrated as a former Girl Scout. She has achieved five academic degrees and has worked as a nurse for more than 50 years. She's served in hospitals all over the world and impacted many Texas A&M students with her leadership and example. She is known, too, for her acts of philanthropy to health and animal nonprofits and causes.
"One of my goals in life is that I respect others, and I expect them to respect one another," she told the crowd Thursday. "Because that's how we all make greater accomplishments"
The final individual honoree was KBTX-TV anchor Kathleen Witte, who was applauded for her dedication to reporting. She has had an interest in journalism since childhood and was named as part of Texas Associated Press' Best Anchor Team. She served on the board of the March of Dimes and the Salvation Army and has volunteered with local charities.
"I'm grateful to this community, and I'm so proud to be a part of this place," Witte said.
The Eagle was honored as a workplace of distinction, described as a business that provides equal opportunity for women and has a number of strong female leaders on staff. Publisher Crystal Dupre accepted the honor with a handful of female Eagle employees at her side.
"We are so blessed to have the awesome people we have working at The Eagle," she said.
Girl Scout leaders also raised funds for the organization's latest major project, the restoration of the Bryan Girl Scout House. Cristal Hice, resource development executive, said that by the end of the night, the local Girl Scout organization would have raised well over $50,000 for both this goal and other services provided to the girls. Money was raised through sponsors, private donations, dinner ticket sales and donations made in the names of the events' honorees.
"[The money] is used for programming for the girls in our area," Hice said. "That's anything that a Girl Scout does as part of her journey, and some special programs we bring to the area from the outside, such as STEMfest, which focuses on 'Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.' Also we're raising funds tonight for the Bryan Scout House, hoping the guests tonight will feel inspiration and motivation for our girls to finish up that renovation."
Girl Scouts of Central Texas presents Women of Distinction
Girl Scouts of Central Texas host the 2018 Women of Distinction ceremony at Hilton College Station on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Honorees included Jeanie Price, Sharon Wilkerson, Kathleen Witte, Imogene Vetters, Irma Cauley and The Eagle newspaper.