PIQUA — The YWCA Piqua proudly announces the selection of the 2017 Woman of Excellence, Ruth Jenkins of Troy, and the Young Woman of Tomorrow, Ashley Ho of Piqua.
The women will be honored at the 21st annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon, a gala celebration on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Piqua Country Club. The keynote speaker for the event will be Supreme Court of Ohio Justice Sharon L. Kennedy.
In announcing the honorees, Leesa A. Baker, executive director of the YWCA Piqua, said: “Many nominations were submitted from clubs, schools, organizations and individuals. The selection was difficult and an impartial panel of judges, composed of men and women from throughout the county, did an excellent and thorough job in selecting this year’s honorees. We are certainly pleased with the selection and are happy to be honoring these two outstanding women who continue to distinguish themselves in their life endeavors.”
For Ruth Jenkins, service to others has been a way of life. A Troy native and mother of three, she spent more than 50 years in nursing and decades serving the community through organizations such as the Troy United Way, the Family Abuse Shelter and the Festival of Nations, among many others.
Jenkins’ life has been one of outstanding service—to her family and friends, her profession and her community,” said Kathleen Scarbrough of the UVMC Foundation in nominating Jenkins for the Woman of Excellence Award.
Jenkins attended Taylor University for one year after graduating from Troy High School before enrolling in the Christ Hospital School of Nursing in Cincinnati. “I always wanted to be a nurse,” she recalled. She was hired in 1956 at Stouder Memorial Hospital where she was co-founder of the Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation program in 1985. After retiring, she was a part-time clinical instructor for the Upper Valley Career Center nursing program.
Jenkins worked part time while raising her children — David, Mary and Julia — along with her husband of 59 years, Pete Jenkins, who worked for Hobart Brothers Co. and was Troy’s mayor for 12 years.
Jenkins didn’t hesitate to support her husband in that role, teaming with him on trips including to Troy’s sister city in Japan and helping found the annual Festival of Nations. Among her community service has been serving as chairman of the board and campaign co-chair for the Troy United Way and being a member of its board; the UVMC Foundation, including chairperson; Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County board, including president; Troy Rec Association board; Troy Main Street Sculptures on the Square committee; Current Events Club; and volunteer for the UVMC Auxiliary, Troy-Hayner Cultural Center and the American Heart Association and its Go Red Goes North event.
“We need more women like Ruth Jenkins in the world. She has spent her whole life striving to make the world a better and safer place for everyone,” said Barbara Holman, executive director of the Family Abuse Shelter.
Bill and Wanda Lukens of Troy wrote that Jenkins also takes the time to support and help friends by taking meals to those who are ill and driving others to appointments. “Most importantly, she listens, which is very important to many as they age. There are many people in Troy and Miami County who cherish her friendship,” they said.
Jenkins’ advice to other women is to be true to themselves and recognize their potential. “Make a difference in your own place and time. I think women now have every opportunity to do that,” she said. “It is hard to balance family and career. It is extremely hard. I still believe instinctively women’s hearts are with their children and their families, but it can be done to balance your life. Do whatever it takes to do that and to make your little spot in the world a better place,” she said.
Ashley Ho’s advice to other young women is to stay organized and know their priorities. She speaks from experience. As the 2017 YWCA Young Woman of Tomorrow embarks on her college experience at North Carolina State University, she has a long list of achievements and involvement to show. Among top honors was the Piqua High School graduate’s selection earlier this year as a U.S. Army Pro Football Hall of Fame Award of Excellence winner, one of 25 selected from across the country. The award looks at academics, community involvement and athletic participation, among other criteria.
She was involved in Key Club, an organization sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club, and selected as the state’s Distinguished Club Member award recipient. Ho participated in track and volleyball, in the Model United Nations program, in Piqua Teen Leaders and was a class salutatorian.
Among other activities was being a Big Sister, spearheading efforts for a local dog park, collecting toys for Toys for Tots and baking cookies at Christmas for local first responders.
Ho said her favorite service organization was Key Club. “The people in the club and the K-family are like no other and it is impossible to meet kinder people. It was student-led so I got many opportunities to interact with adults, lead projects and take charge along with helping many people in the community,” she said.
Mark Reedy, Ohio Key Club zone administrator, said, “Ashley’s team building skills are wonderfully empowering.” He worked with Ho in planning a District Leadership Conference. “She was an absolute pleasure to work with, mature beyond her years and I’m 100 percent confident that she will be of great benefit to employers or leaders wherever her future career and aspirations take her.”
Ho is the daughter of Elizabeth Cline and stepfather, Brad Cline, and has two older siblings, Easton, who lives in Piqua, and Adrienne, who lives in North Carolina with her family.
Her mother is her role model. “She was permanently injured during her work a few years ago and watching how strong she was during her surgery and how inspiring she remains now that she is permanently disabled inspires me. She’s also been an amazing mom with unconditional love that I never question and always puts her kids first,” Ho said.
A psychology major, Ho said it could be difficult balancing all of her activities—also including a part time job—during high school, but added she enjoys being busy.
“My advice is to stay organized and know your priorities. If you can tell yourself your goal that you are working towards when things get hard, it will keep you pushing toward that goal,” Ho said. “Knowing that it all pays off in the end makes it all worth it. Also make sure you value everything you do. Do what you love and love what you do.”
For more information about the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon or to reserve a ticket, stop at the YWCA Piqua, 418 N. Wayne St., or call 773-6626. Seating for the event is limited.