CLINTON — As the YWCA Clinton prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, six area women and one local business will be recognized for their extraordinary efforts and accomplishments in the community at the 42nd annual presentation of the YWCA Woman of Achievement awards. The honorees were selected from nominations in each category submitted earlier this year by colleagues, family and friends. 

A dinner will be held to honor their accomplishments on April 16 at The Tuscany Special Events Center at Rastrelli’s Restaurant in Clinton. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with a welcome at 6 p.m. and dinner to follow. Tickets are $25. To join in the celebration, reservations may be made through Monday, April 13, by calling the YWCA at 242-2110. 

Honorees include:

CIVIC/COMMUNITY WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT – MAGGIE (PEART) STAFFORD

Maggie (Peart) Stafford has been selected to receive the Civic/Community Woman of Achievement award. As a life-long animal welfare advocate, she has devoted her personal and professional life to her love of animals and ensuring their safety. She and her husband, John, own Buddy Gourmet, a companion animal bakery and boutique in Clinton. Their family includes five children and numerous rescued animals. Maggie is a pioneer in the area of pet therapy; in 2004 she obtained one of Iowa’s first certified therapy dogs and began visiting long-term care facilities, schools and other facilities where the calming and positive effects of a highly trained therapy dog could be of service. She is now the Director of the Clinton County Citizens Emergency Response Team’s Therapy Dog Program. She and her K9 partner, Albert, also take part in local literacy mentoring programs, where school-aged children can feel at ease while practicing their reading skills.

Her nominators Jim and Nancy Gustin wrote, “Her spirit of volunteerism has carried on for decades with numerous shining examples of selflessly helping her community to be a better place.” 

Maggie is a past long-time volunteer of the Clinton Humane Society and currently is involved as a Junior Achievement representative in the Clinton schools, chairperson for the Prince of Peace Fine Arts Week, is active with the local Working Iowa Neighbors committee, and is a Professional Humane Educator. She also speaks out as an ambassador for the rare disease community as both a patient and mother of two sons with a rare PFS diagnosis. Maggie shared, “I feel we each have an obligation to fill the needs of those in our community. When we all do what we can, we reduce suffering, and this is important, even in very small ways.”

PROFESSIONAL WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT – MARIE GOLDBECK-STRUNK

“Not only is she a role model to other women where she works and in her field but she is a role model to all. She is positive and optimistic and believes that the difference between “extraordinary” and “ordinary” is that little word extra,” wrote Kristi Cannon, President and the American Business Women’s Association Midwest Heartland Chapter members when nominating Marie for the Professional Woman of Achievement award.

After studying to earn her cosmetology degree, later earning an Instructor license and owning her own hair styling studio for 11 years, Marie became very ill and was forced to quit this line of work. A devastating neurological diagnosis combined with a physician’s bleak outlook gave her every reason to believe she may never work again. But refusing to accept this, she, while attending rehabilitation, began to study for her Life and Health license and became an independent agent with AFLAC. She is now an independent District Sales Coordinator, responsible for growth in new and existing accounts, recruitment and training of new agents. She has won numerous employment awards and is also very active in community organizations. “Mentoring is very important to professional women; my goal for the future is to help other women seek to work for themselves and accomplish their dreams.”

Marie is a member of the Clinton Kiwanis Club, Children’s Discovery Center, ABWA, Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce and volunteers as a Chamber Ambassador. She helps others by giving back to AFLAC’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and was instrumental in starting and co-chairs the Clinton Glow Walk to prevent bullying and raise awareness to anti-bullying efforts. Marie lives in Clinton with her husband, Michael, and daughter Cassandra, has two stepsons and granddaughters.

RELIGIOUS WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT – REV. EDIE LENZ

“She has shared her gifts and has been the driving force behind the revitalization of the congregation.” shared Larry Senior, Jim VanZuiden and members of the First Reformed Church in Fulton who assisted with her nomination for Religious Woman of Achievement.  The Rev. Edith Lenz or Pastor Edie, as she is known to many, is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, studied at Valparaiso University and completed her Masters of Divinity at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Prior to arriving in Fulton in 2008, she served at the Church of the Good News in Chicago for six years and was asked to stay on to help to close its doors. While at First Reformed she has been responsible for the formation of a Ridder Team and has now been commissioned to be a denominational teacher for other churches wishing to begin the Ridder Renewal. She serves as President of the Mid America Synod of the Reformed Church in America and is a past President of the Fulton Ministerial Association. Rev. Lenz was named by Christianity Today as one of the top 30 young pastors in the United States. During the past two years, she has guided the unification of this church with a neighboring congregation.

She is active in the community, serving as the chaplain of the local Fire and EMS departments, ambulance driver and a past member of the Fulton Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband, Brian, have organized an annual car show at the church with the proceeds assisting with local needs. They are parents to a second-grade son, she spends time weekly volunteering in his classroom and they participate in Tae Kwon do together.

COUNTY WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT – JANE SCHMIDT

Jane Schmidt of Delmar is this year’s County Woman of Achievement. She is a 30-plus year veteran teacher from the Maquoketa Community School District, where during the 2013-14 school year she taught eighth-grade literacy in the morning and served as Director of Professional Growth and Student Learning in the afternoon. She was named the 2014 Iowa Teacher of the Year and with that title serves as an Ambassador of Education representing Iowa teachers.  Her work is dedicated to nurturing not only a love of reading and writing but also a deep understanding of their importance in today’s informational age.  

Her career began in special education.  While earning a Master’s in Special Education and working with special learners, she developed a passion for literacy, earning certification in both Reading and Language Arts. In 2004, she achieved National Board Certification in Early Adolescence/English Language Arts, which she renewed this fall. She has worked in Maquoketa for 28 years, with most of those years teaching middle school students writing and literacy. In May 2013, she earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership with a desire to influence change within a system, and currently serves in an administrative role in the district in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Nominator Carolyn Tallet shared, “Her effervescent smile and positive personality to all is contagious. I believe this passionate and articulate woman is deserving of this award.” 

She and her husband, Brian, live on the ancestral farm near Delmar; they have three children and one grandson. Jane helped to create the Maquoketa Education Fund, which has awarded over $160,000 in grants over the past 10 years. She is the past State President of the Alumni Association of the Future Farmers of America and has taken two mission trips to Haiti and given seminars for Haitian teachers.

BUSINESS LEADER – RASTRELLI’S RESTAURANT

Nominator Jennifer Graf wrote, “Our community is a much better place for having him in our midst. By hiring, encouraging and nurturing the careers of many women, he has certainly provided them with the opportunity to be successful in the workplace and within our community.” Rastrelli’s Restaurant and owner Mike Rastrelli will receive this year’s Business Leader award.

A business with a 75-year history in Clinton began in 1939. Rastrelli’s Restaurant was started by Pete Rastrelli. an Italian immigrant from Tuscany, and his wife, Ida. The self-taught couple opened Rastrelli’s Revere Candy Shop in the Revere Hotel. Starting with candies, homemade ice cream and burgers, the menu expanded to include dinner items and a new creation known as pizza after moving to the Lyons area. They believed in making the best quality food and making it from scratch. These same traditions are evident today as their son, Mike, continues to provide for his staff and the community. He provides opportunities for employment, future careers for high school students through the culinary arts program and successful fundraising for community nonprofit organizations.

In 2010, the Iowa Restaurant Association presented Mike Rastrelli the Restaurateur of the Year award, the highest honor the 75-plus year old professional association can bestow on an individual restaurateur. The recipient is selected for his or her business expertise, commitment to excellence, philanthropic efforts and work for the greater good of the industry. “Over the years, he has given hundreds of young people their first jobs, partnered with the school system to offer school-to-work educational training programs, participated in stop hunger initiatives, and worked on the Association’s various legislative, event and educational committees. His contributions have been invaluable.”

YOUNG WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT – SYDNEY SCHREIBER

Sydney Schreiber will receive this year’s Young Woman of Achievement award. She is the daughter of Jennifer Hansen and Tom Schreiber, has four younger siblings and is a senior at Prince of Peace Catholic School. Her nominator Tom Jankowski shared, “She lives by a philosophy of helping others and bringing joy. She wants to become a lawyer, but not for the money. She wants to help those who cannot speak for themselves. She wants to be an advocate for those in our society who do not have a voice.”

Her high school career has included involvement all four years as a member of the golf team, speech, theater, chorus, band and student council. Sydney has performed in 15 performances over the past seven years in the drama program and was recently featured as the lead in the musical Mary Poppins. She currently serves as Vice President of the Student Council, President of the National Honor Society, earned the first Prince of Peace Fine Arts Award in 2011 and has been on the high honor roll each year. She volunteers as a peer tutor and has worked with others to organize blood drives, food drives, dances, school pride week activities and drug-free schools activities.

Sydney is quite an accomplished musician; she plays six different instruments; the harp, piano, guitar, drums, ukulele and is currently learning the violin. She will attend the University of Iowa in the fall majoring in Economics with plans to attend law school.

UNSUNG HERO/YWCA HONOREE – SHANNON SANDER-WELZIEN

Shannon Sander-Welzien is the Executive Director of the YWCA in Clinton and has been selected as the 2015 Unsung Hero/YWCA Honoree.  Before becoming Executive Director, Shannon was the YWCA’s Marketing Director for nearly five years. She received her undergraduate degree in Business/Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa, with a minor in Women Studies. A life-long resident of Clinton, Shannon began her affiliation with the YWCA as a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer in 2005. She formerly worked in the financial services industry for 11 years with Williams Financial Group. In addition to serving on various YWCA committees, Shannon serves in the community as a member of the Clinton Rotary Club, Clinton Half Marathon Committee, Healthy Lifestyles Coalition, United Way Reading Initiative, ABWA, Let’s Live Healthy Clinton Committee, Caring Tree Committee and Micro Credit Finance Committee.  

Her nominators, Sarah Brubaker and Kasey Lueders Jennings shared, “Her passion for the mission of the YWCA began early, long before her affiliation with the organization itself. As a college student you could find her going door-to-door lobbying for the Equal Rights Amendment. She truly leads by example as she balances her own dynamic professional life with a full and active family life and creates an environment that enables other YWCA employees to do the same.”

She and her husband of 16 years, Jeff, have three children, Owen, 10; Ella, 9; and Ty, 5.  “I am so very proud to be a part of the great work of the YWCA, celebrating 100 years of making a difference in our community. We have an amazing team of people, that do amazing things every day, from teaching a child’s first swim lesson to providing a home to the homeless, the YWCA is there to help our community be a better place for all of us.”

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