Shirley Helmrichs was named the Manchester Chamber’s first-ever “Woman of the Year” on Wednesday night.
Helmrichs was one of five nominees for the award, with the others including Katie Edgington, Marian Gassman, Dianne Larsen and Kathy Wilgenbusch. Helmrichs, who farms south of town and has served over two decades as a Delaware County Supervisor, is also a big believer in giving back to her community. She has been the 4-H leader of the Milo Livestock 4-H Club for over 40 years, serves as the administrative assistant for the Delaware County Pork Producers, is very active at Golden Congregational Church and has helped others start their own careers in farming – just to name a few.
The person who nominated her said in their nomination letter, “While it would be easy to say that Shirley is busy and gives a lot of her time, it is also her heart and knowledge that makes our community a better place to be.” Her honor came Wednesday night at the Chamber’s 1st Annual “EmpowHER” Women’s Night. Nearly three hundred women from the area gathered at The Gathering Place in Manchester for a night filled with food, drinks, vendors, prizes and inspirational speaker Gerarda Lahey-Keppler. Helmrichs says it was a great event to be part of.
Nomination letters for the Manchester Chamber’s 2019 Woman of the Year Nominees
Katie Edgington is the Director of the Meadows Assisted Living facility, which is a part of the Good Neighbor Society. During her time at Good Neighbor, Katie has shown determination, perseverance, and compassion, while also showing that hard work and continuing your education will get you to where you want to be. Through her work, Katie is an integral part of the care that the tenants receive at the Meadows and was also instrumental in the new Neighborhood Retreat which opened in 2018. She and her team are also active in the community and volunteer at 2nd Helpings, Castle Theater, and the Window Walk and Static Christmas Parade. Katie views her greatest accomplishment as being a mom to her 2 kids. She and her family are active in the community as well through theStone Church, WD’s Academic Booster Club, Friends of Music and the Manchester Fire Department. Through her husband’s 4th grade class at Lambert she also volunteers time in the classroom. One of her colleagues shared this of Katie: “Whether Katie is being the model mom for her two active children, or leading a team to serve a bigger purpose, she does it with grace, assertiveness and passion! Besides these selfless traits, Katie takes on a tremendous amount of leadership through the committees she participates in, her kids’ activities and leading a dedicated team of compassionate caregivers at her place of employment. Katie has a sense of integrity that is unwavering, and while she tends to blend in and be humble about her accomplishments, her height always makes her stand out. Katie is devoted to the Manchester community through faith, family and employment, and is very deserving of this honor.”
Marian Gassman is the owner of Treasure Alley and Treasure Alley (too!). She was nominated for her enthusiasm and the support she gives the community through her two retail stores, but if you know Marian, there is so much more that she does than people realize! Through her business, she has donated and supported many families in needs as well as organizations such as Lutheran Social Services, Four Oaks, Camp Courageous, Tiny House and Garments and Goods. On top of this, it is her personality and flair that make Marian stand out. She describes her business as one that operations on a foundation of kindness and fairness and attributes the 36+ years of the business success of perseverance but also community support. Not one to be satisfied with merely sitting still or going with the flow, Marian works to be an advocate for the community, her customers and believes that change is always positive or a learning experience.
Although many of the things she does go under the radar, she is a doer. She listens to people and looks for solutions and ways to implement change. Through all of that, her hope is to inspire others to embrace their own strengths and passions to help them accomplish the important things in their lives.
Shirley Helmrichs is a well-known member of our community for many reasons. She is a self-employed farmer, has served as a Delaware County Supervisor for 21 years and is the administrative assistant for the Delaware County Pork Producers. She serves on several county and regional boards including RTA, RPA, EIRUSS, and ECIA. She is the Delaware County rep on the Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority, Assistant Commissioner on the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District committee and serves on the Governance Board for ECR Regional Mental Health, District 6 Corrections Board, NEI3A Agency on Aging, and the tri-county Operation New View Board. Shirley is the current 4-H Leader of the Milo Livestock 4-H Club and has been for over 40 years. She has also been the Poultry Project leader many of those years, on the 4-H Food Stand Committee for over 30 years, and a member of the Delaware County Youth Committee for 15 years. She also sponsors a 4-H scholarship each year in memory of her husband, as well as a county 4-H scholarship with her siblings in memory of her parents. In addition, she is also very active at Golden Congregational Church. While it would be easy to say that Shirley is busy and gives a lot of her time, it is also her heart and knowledge that makes our community a better place to be. She leads by thinking of the youth and future and helps to do what she can to organize, step in, and help with day to day tasks to beautify our community, give someone a hand up, or even start their own careers in farming. Shirley stated, “Helping our county and community reach long-term goals, and becoming even better makes every day worthwhile.
Dianne Larsen embodies what it means to be a selfless volunteer. Her vacation time often is used as volunteer time to make the community and those around her better. She served as a 4-H Leader for many years and also volunteers to work in the 4-H Food Stand the entire week of the fair. Through her church, Dianne serves as a Eucharistic Minister and to the homebound, is a Parish Provider, serves in Social Justice, Faith Formation, RCIA and Catholic Daughters of America where she current serves as the Vice-Regent Daughters and will be the Regent in June. In addition, she helps with the Festival of Trees Bake Sale, Friends of the Library and Second Helpings. When asked what she feels is her greatest accomplishment, Dianne said she knows she’s successful when she sees the smiles on people’s faces. When she can serve others and know she is making them happy, smile, or make their life better, whether that’s through a visit, helping hand, or finding an item in the store, she feels joy that nothing else can bring. The many hours of beyond the scenes work are noticed and have had an impact on people’s lives for years, with what I am sure are many more years of selfless giving to come!
Kathy has been a successful businesswoman for the past 19 years at The Quiltmaker’s Shoppe. Her unique retail business draws customers from the surrounding communities as well as other states. She organizes special events like bus trips, shop hops, and workshops to bring people to our community. This in turn is good for other specialty shops in town. It has helped make Manchester a destination community. Kathy has also served on the Chamber of Commerce in many different capacities. She continually promotes the community by taking part in Chamber events and referring customers to other businesses in town. She is one of the founding members of Barn Quilts of Delaware County. This organization has also drawn attention to not only Manchester, but the entire county. Currently there are nearly 100 barn quilts for people to enjoy. Kathy is an active member of the Return the Favor group that provides quilts to children going into foster care through Lutheran Social Services. Each month she provides a place for the group to meet at her shoppe. She is not only generous with her time, but with her fabric, advice and always has a smile. Each year the group provides 60+ quilts to this worthwhile project. She has also donated more than 20 quilts to Passage Quilts which is used to cover a deceased loved one as they leave their home or hospital. She is also an active member of St. Mary Catholic Church and Catholic Daughters of America. Kathy gives selflessly through her talent, time, and resources and always gives credit first to her team around her, making a true inspiration.
photos courtesy of Janelle Tucker/KMCH