PLATTSBURGH - The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York recently awarded five local women the honor of being "Women of Distinction" for their efforts in the community.
On Sept. 30, Megan Borland, Vickie Phaneuf, Angela Spahr, Michelle Hills, and Michelle Menard were given the title as being Women of Distinction, which the Girl Scouts select "based upon their significant contributions to the community, their impact on the lives of those around them, and their example for women of all ages."
Borland, who received the Distinguished Leader of Tomorrow award, is an 11th grader at Lake Placid High School. During her introduction speech by mistress of ceremonies Keela Dates, the Distinguished Emerging Trailblazer recipient of 2009, Dates said, "Unlike many young women her age, Megan carries herself with a confidence and style that's all her own. She glows from the inside out and serves as an incredible example for her peers as well as the younger students who spend time with her during tutoring sessions."
In Borland's acceptance speech, she said it was through all the community service and outreach programs she was involved in that she learned the value of helping others.
"As the old saying goes, 'What goes around, comes around,'" she said. "With every little thing I do for someone else, it comes back 10-fold in the joy I see I brought to them and the things I helped them accomplish."
The second recipient of the WOD award was Vickie Phaneuf, who earned the Distinguished Trailblazer award.
"From what I've learned about Vickie over the past couple of months, she seems to be a true servant to others," said Dates. "Vickie has held many occupations in the areas of childcare, senior services, mental health services, special events and others too numerous to list."
"Vickie has taken her love for others and desire to learn new skills wherever she goes," she added. "It seems in Vickie's eyes every individual is worthy of love and support and she's constantly trying to learn how to help others."
According to Phaneuf giving to others was never an option for her growing up, it was instead considered a privilege.
"My mother made sure that we were involved with as many school activities and organizations as possible," said Phaneuf. "One of those was Girl Scouts. My memory of walking over the bridge as a Brownie to receive my Girl Scout pin seems like yesterday, and I believe it was the start of a true leadership role."
Angela Spahr received the Distinguished Community Leader award. Spahr is involved in numerous activities including scouting, community, church and school services.
"To say Angela is a passionate person would be an understatement," said Dates. "Her tireless dedication to everything she is involved in is just incredible. She seems to have some sort of superhuman strength which propels her from her home ... to school where she works in the 12th grade resource room as a consultant teacher, as well as serving on numerous committees, helping with various projects, to church where she is a Sunday school teacher as well as a team group advisor, to whatever event she is organization, for whichever charity she is focusing on helping at the moment. She is truly Superwoman."
For Spahr, a quote from Mohandas Ghandi summed up why she does all she does.
"'We must be the change we want to see in the world,'" Spahr quoted. "We really do need to, because we are far away from our future. We're taking this planet. We need to give it back in better condition than it is now. So, do something."
The second Distinguished Community Leader award went to Michelle Hills who is an active member on many community planning and development committees such as Mobilizing for Action, Planning and Partnership Committee, the Action for Health Subcommittee, Eat Well/Play Hard Partnership, Mental Health Subcommittee, and the Saranac River Trail Project.
"Although being involved in Girl Scouts is certainly not a prerequisite for this or any other Woman of Distinction award, Michelle has been surrounded by the culture of Girl Scouts her whole life," explained Dates. "She learned many skills from being a part of Girl Scouts that has served her well and she loves to pass the knowledge on to other young people."
During her speech, Hills said she was just 10 years old when she had her first volunteer experience.
"I road my bike five miles and I raised $15 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation," Hills recalled. "I was overjoyed when I crossed the finish line because I knew in my heart I had just made a difference in the life of another kid. I knew that kid would probably never ride a bike and would possibly die at a young age. I was grateful for the gift of the lesson."
The final award of the evening went to Michelle Menard, who received the Distinguished Personal Achievement award.
According to Menard's biography provided by the Girl Scouts, she is "excelling in a field traditionally dominated by men." She is currently the only woman on the Operations Analysts Team of Casella Waste Home Office Team, and often gives back to the community as a way of "re-energizing" herself.
"As many of you from Plattsburgh know, [Michelle] has been challenged by the transition from her family-run business of Northern Sanitation to the corporate world of Casella Waste Management," Dates said. "Through it all she has proven she is capable of doing anything and everything that businessmen can do."
"We are all created equally," said Menard in her speech. "But, when it comes to being a woman, we tend to have to stand up for ourselves and then push ourselves to grow in business, in our lives, in our journey today. We choose that path."