Recipients range from veteran social-service role models to student volunteers
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
A distinguished roster of female honorees received well-deserved recognition Monday night from the Chester County Women’s Commission (CCWC).
The student award-winners were selected for having inspired and showed promise while the adult recipients were cited for overcoming obstacles or making longtime contributions for the advancement of women. The presenters included Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell, Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.
Distinguished Service Awards were given to Kathy Brill, the business manager for the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department, who was cited for her inspiring work collecting winter clothes for the needy, a devotion that prompted many others to get involved; Peggy Gusz, a co-founder and executive director of the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, was lauded for more than four decades of anti-violence initiatives and tireless outreach to victims; and Phoebe Kitson-Davis, program manager for the Chester County Food Bank, was honored for multiple collaborations with county agencies and schools to teach young people about the importance of nutrition and community service.
Jennifer Madden and Lynne Williams each received an Empowered Woman Award. Madden, who experienced post traumatic stress disorder after being deployed by the Army National Guard to Afghanistan, availed herself of the services of the Give an Hour Foundation, which encourages mental health professionals to offer free services to military personnel, ultimately becoming a spokesperson for the foundation. Williams, who needed to return to the work force after experiencing a devastating house fire, struck out for several months until she reinvented herself as virtual personal assistant, a stint that eventually landed her a permanent full-time job. However, Williams makes sure she has time to give back to the community that supported her when times were difficult. In addition to assisting other job-seekers, she also works with the Berwyn Fire Company.
An Empowered Young Woman Award went to Aja Thompson, a high-achieving senior at Coatesville Area Senior High; after being selected in 2012 for the Coatesville Youth Initiative’s ServiceCorps program, she has since taken on leadership roles, helping to run numerous service projects. Another recipient, Nina Mazzarelli, a senior basketball superstar at West Chester East, was also honored for her leadership and mentoring skills as well as her work with Best Buddies, a global volunteer effort to provide one-on-one relationships with those with disabilities. And Christine Luczka, a senior at Temple University, was recognized for working as an instructor or youth course director for the Boys Scouts’ Chester County Council’s Nation Youth Leadership Training course since 2008.
The Chester County Women’s Commission of Pennsylvania was established on Dec. 13, 1993, by the Chester County Commissioners to provide regular input on the status and needs of women in Chester County. Volunteer members are appointed by the commissioners to three-year terms on a rotating basis. Each member may serve two consecutive terms. The twenty-one women on the CCWC represent diverse interests and reside throughout Chester County.
The CCWC is currently seeking new members. To download a membership application or receive more information, visit http://www.ccwomenscommission.org or the commission’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ccwc1.