Soroptimists of Port Angeles name their Women of Distinction
Tina Smith-O’Hara Women of Distinction award winners are, from left, Reath Ellefson, Betsy Reed Schultz, Kathy Charlton, Molly Rivard, Dianna Cross and Tracey Lassus. Fellow winner Lisa Martin is not pictured.
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Women honored at a ceremony last Thursday at the Port Angeles Senior and Community Center are:
-- Kathy Charlton, Molly Rivard and Lisa Martin, the “working girls” of Olympic Cellars Winery.
-- Dianna Cross of the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross.
-- Reath Ellefson, who organizes the annual community Thanksgiving dinner held at the Queen of Angels Church gym.
-- Tracey Lassus, juvenile deputy prosecuting attorney, Clallam County Teen Court adviser and community volunteer.
-- Betsy Reed Schultz, past president of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and a community volunteer who is transforming The Tudor Inn into the Captain Joseph House.
Charlton, Rivard and Martin of Olympic Cellars have invited the Soroptimists to participate in their Hot August Night fundraisers since 2010.
These benefit fundraisers provided the Jet Set group with additional funding for its Women's Opportunity Award and other scholarships.
Olympic Cellars hit a milestone in 2011 in donations to the Port Angeles community, the Soroptimists said.
In 2002, with the release of the Working Girl Wines and the winery's Charity of Choice program, the first donation check totaled $88.
It was given to the Gynocare Fund, which provides diagnostic care for under- and uninsured women.
By the end of 2011, Olympic Cellars hit the $100,000 mark for total cash and wine contributions.
In addition to her work as juvenile deputy prosecuting attorney and a Clallam County Teen Court adviser, Lassus also is a Camp Fire USA program leader and volunteer, activist, fundraiser and educator.
“She is a proactive champion of youth and families in Clallam County, always looking for a safety net for today's youth,” the Soroptimists said.
“Lassus uses her voice to educate community and community leaders about the importance of developing quality youth, and she provides social interaction, social professionalism and a quality relationship to the youth she serves in the community.
“She works long hours and does more behind the scenes than most know to ensure excellent working relationships with law enforcement, public defenders, judges, school districts and families,” the group said.
The first community Thanksgiving dinner Ellefson organized was four years ago — and she thought it might be her last, since she is fighting cancer.
Instead, she has led the growth of the annual celebration, which is held in the Queen of Angels Church gym.
Last Thanksgiving Day, an estimated 475 people — from infants to seniors — gathered there.
“Seconds are always encouraged, as is the opportunity to take ‘leftovers' home,” the Soroptimists said.
“Each person also leaves with a small wrapped gift chosen from a large selection of items suitable for any age.
“No detail is overlooked as Ellefson coordinates over 100 volunteers . . .
“She does so, with heart and strength.”
Cross often is the face of the American Red Cross at disasters on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Twenty-three years ago, Cross took her first Red Cross class on the Olympic Peninsula.
Since then, she has been trained to do damage assessment, manage a shelter, drive an emergency response vehicle, feed a community during a disaster, speak to the media and in countless other Red Cross jobs.
She also has trained to be a disaster action team member and to respond to disasters as a Red Cross volunteer across the nation.
She has responded to many fires during her tenure.
A senior member of the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross team, Cross is in the office every Tuesday supervising the transfer of the disaster kits for disaster action team volunteers.
She began her service with the Red Cross in 1956 at Burtonwood Air Force Base in England.
As chairwoman of staff aids, she began a program to care for the children of families of deceased pilots.
“Whenever the Red Cross is at an event or fair to provide first aid or disaster information to the public, Cross is one of the first volunteers to raise her hand to fill a slot,” the Soroptimists said.
Schultz is turning a personal tragedy into an opportunity for others suffering the same loss she has had.
Her only son, Capt. Joseph Schultz, was killed at the age of 36 on May 29, 2011, in Afghanistan's Wardak province when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive.
So, thinking of others suffering the grief she has had, she is turning The Tudor Inn at 1108 S. Oak St. in Port Angeles into the Captain Joseph House, a vacation home for families of fallen soldiers, under the auspices of the Captain Joseph House Foundation.
Schultz had moved from her California home in 2001 to follow her dream of the purchase of The Tudor Inn.
She became involved with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce the first year she moved to the area.
She started the “Shop Till You Drop” Christmas event, as well as “Girls' Night Out” in May.
She has served as chamber president and was honored as “member extraordinaire” for her work.
For the past four years, Schultz has been the head designer for Festival of Trees and has been involved with the annual Duck Derby — both fundraisers for the Olympic Medical Center Foundation.
For more information about the awards, email Jet Set member Ruth Thomson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: March 22. 2012 5:31PM