To honor Women's History Month, which is celebrated every March, The Lake Today highlighted some notable women who truly have left a legacy at Lake of the Ozarks.
Along with this commemoration, The Lake Today staff asked our readers to nominate a woman in their life who was doing the same to be chosen and win the "Women Making a Mark on the Lake Community" Contest. These women could range from stay-at-home mothers with a special nurturing nature or talented educator who goes the extra mile to inspirational business women who keep the community in mind or a volunteer who donates their time. They all devote their hearts and souls to giving back to the area's residents.
Our staff received numerous submissions of women who filled all these roles and many other admirable positions in the Lake Area who were truly "making their mark" at Lake of the Ozarks' women's history. After gathering the nominations, we allowed our judges panel, all of who live outside of the immediate Lake Area and did not know any of the women nominated, to select a grand prizewinner and two runners-up as this year's contest winners. They selected the winners on the nominations submitted and information provided on personality, contribution to the community or their loved ones and character.
Their prize package, aside from being featured in this issue, includes a beautiful floral arrangement from Janine's Flowers, relaxation package to Serenity Medical Spa, and a gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse for the grand prize winner; and a beautiful floral arrangement from Janine's Flowers and gift certificate to Shabby Chic Boutique in Osage Beach for the two runners-up. The Lake Today would like to thank these businesses for their generous donations to help honor this important and inspiring women in our community.
For the premier of this contest, our judges selected Sandy Waggett as the grand prize winner, and Ann Brown and Geraldine "Gerry" Rector as the two runners-up. On behalf of our contest business sponsors, judges and The Lake Today staff, congratulations to these lovely, talented and wonderful women who have truly "made their mark on the Lake community."
Now, find out about why the judges selected these women from the submissions made by those who may know them best - the loved ones and friends who nominated them.
Grand Prize Winner Sandy Waggett
The following are excerpts from Sandy Waggett's nomination submission, which was written by her loving husband, Mike.
"Sandy is the founder and owner of MSW Interactive Designs (MSW) since 1999 and her accomplishments as a small business owner have been impressive. Her knowledge, experience, and absolute commitment to customer service have led to more than 700 clients coast to coast in numerous business sectors and 200-plus Lake Area clients seeking her web design, hosting, search engine optimization skills and social media services. MSW is also the parent company for wedding planning portals offering advertising for wedding professionals in 28 markets, and for www.WhereBridesGo.com, one of the largest on-line retail storefronts in the country. MSW currently employs seven people."
"Since starting the company in 1999, Sandy has garnered numerous national level awards for women owned businesses, including the International Stevie Awards for Women in Business, in multiple categories such as the 2004 Fastest Growing Company of the Year, the 2004 Technology Innovator of the Year, the 2005 Best Entrepreneur, Service Business, the 2005 Best Online Marketing Campaign for WhereBridesGo.com, and the 2008 Best Entrepreneur."
"Her reputation as a recognized expert in her field has numerous local organizations turning to her for help. She volunteered to present at the small business conference at Tan-Tar-A in 2010, conducted workshops for SCORE on how small businesses can build/improve their web presence for the past two years, and has presented workshops for The Heart of the Ozarks Professional and Business Women, the Tri-County Lodging Association, and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce in 2011-12. She has been featured in many blogs, columns, and other media nationwide for her expertise in both web design and the online wedding planning sites and e-commerce storefront she operates."
"Sandy is an extremely active member of the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce by supporting the socials, business networking events, and other yearly chamber events. In 2009, Sandy began a new local chapter of Business Network International (BNI) that meets every week. Sandy began this formalized referral-networking group with just 4 people in June of 2009, brought in help from the St Louis regional BNI office, and quickly grew the group to 20 members of local lake businesses. The chapter was officially "chartered" in October of 2009 and Sandy became the chapter President."
"As President, the chapter reached the 50-member level (platinum status) and reached 70 small business members last fall. During the past year, the chapter consistently ranked in the top 5 out of 90 BNI chapters in the region, and was the #1 chapter for business production in the State of Missouri, Southeastern Illinois and Northern Arkansas for three months. Under Sandy's leadership, the members of the chapter passed 5,000-plus referrals and closed $7.5 million in business for the Lake Area."
"Over the past two years, she had given direct monetary help in the form of donated websites to Ozark Coast Kiwanis website, the Great Bagnell Dam Duck Drop website, and the Lake Area Big Brother Big Sister website, the Miss Lake of the Ozarks website, the Dogwood Animal Shelter website, the Woman to Woman website, the Community Foundation of the Lake website, and she has offered to donate the Lake of the Ozarks Community Sign project website. In total, these websites represent a donation of nearly $9,000 in services."
"In addition, she has donated websites that directly help our military community nationwide. Supporting her husband's military service, Sandy has donated several thousand of dollars in websites to the National Guard Association of Kentucky, the United States Air Force F-111 fighter pilot reunion, and the F-111 memorial association. In conjunction with (other local businesses), Sandy also established the Lake of the Ozarks Community Hero event in March 2011. This annual event honors the heroes in our community by soliciting nominations from Lake Area citizens and businesses that exemplify excellence in public service, charitable support, education, volunteerism and health care. This event raises money that is then split between the awardees to be given to the charity of their choice. The event was a huge success and she is looking forward to an even bigger and better event on April 3rd of this year."
"Sandy gives of her time by also actively supporting many other charity efforts. She has been a member of the planning committee for the March of Dimes Signature Chef's Event where she recruited donations, helped setup the silent auction, and she personally donated to the cause as a Champagne Sponsor. She has volunteered at Christmas for Kids, the Great Bagnell Dam Duck Drop, and has supported the HK, CADV, YMCA, Support the Fort, Blue Moon and many other charity golf events. She is also an active member of the Ozark Coast Kiwanis club."
"Sandy Waggett's leadership, accomplishments and impact on our community continue to be astonishing. Anyone who has known or dealt with Sandy knows that her ethics and morals are of the highest standards. Her company is well respected for its excellence, attention to detail, and customer service and has held the Better Business Bureau A+ rating since it started business in 1999."
"She had the vision and drive to start two Business Referral Networking groups that have generated nearly twelve million dollars of local business. Her leadership in her field is greatly sought after by local businesses and business groups looking for help promoting their businesses on the Internet. Her willingness to help others is equally as astounding. By donating websites, actively giving, and volunteering wherever she can, Sandy has improved the lives of uncountable Lake Area residents."
Runner-up Ann Brown
The following are excerpts from Ann Brown's nomination submission, which was written by her friend, Carolyn Loraine.
"Ann is a native of Ocala, Fla. and received her degree from the University of Florida. She started her career at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach, Fla. Ann moved to the Lake in 2000 with Spa Shiki where she currently owns and manages the very successful spa. Ann is hands-on. As an owner and manager she has times had to fill in for an ill employee with a full client schedule ... always with a smile and positive attitude."
"In her professional field, Ann has been elected by her peers to the Board of International Spa Association. She also serves on the International Spa Association Task Force and the Education Committee. Locally Ann is a board member of CADV, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Kiwanis. Spa Shiki generously sponsors or donates to events for the School of the Osage PTA, YMCA, HK's Golf Tournament, the Ellis Fischel Gala, Hope House, CADV, Kiwanis (Run for the Beach) 5K and Big Brothers/Big Sisters events."
"I personally became acquainted with Ann through our service on the CADV board. Ann is a very caring community minded individual and she is constantly looking for means to improve the quality of life for the les fortunate. In the years that I have known Ann she is always the first to volunteer a donation to any organization."
"Ann has a very positive attitude and is always seeing the best in others. When uncomfortable situations arise Ann exhibits her leadership skills and is a complete diplomat - always striving to resolve conflict in a positive, professional manner."
Not only does Ann have a thriving career she is also a homemaker, wife and mother. Ann and her husband mark have two elementary age children, Cameron and Brooke. It is not unusual to have Ann answer her cell phone while at a "play day' with her children and their friends. Cameron and Brooke are being taught first hand that helping others is life's greatest reward. It is my privilege to call Ann Brown a friend."
Runner-up Geraldine "Gerry" Rector
The following are excerpts from Geraldine "Gerry" Rector's nomination submission, which was written by her loving daughter-in-law, Amy Rector.
"Gerry Rector has been leaving her mark since the day she was born prematurely, in a log cabin in Crocker, Mo. The family had come to see Gerry's uncle, who was being shipped out to war. The uncle told Gerry's mom he would like to see that baby before he shipped out, and she was born the next day. Like I said she has been making her mark since the day she arrived."
"Gerry is the oldest of five children. While growing up she had many "addresses' as she put it. They lived in Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona before settling down in Missouri. On April 29, 1967 Gerry married James Rector Jr. Together they raised five children."
"Gerry began teaching at Immaculate Conception in Union, Mo. during the 1969-70 and 1970-71 school years. In 1972, she and James moved to St. Louis and made Camdenton their home. Over the next several years, Gerry held several jobs, from housekeeping to secretarial. During this time, she also received her college education. She worked at Windsor Estates Nursing home when they first built the facility. There are many occasions still yet today when you can find Gerry at the nursing home with family or friend, just there to pamper them or hold their hand. She does not hesitate for even a second to roll up her sleeves and do what needs to be done."
"In September 1981, Gerry has been teaching at Camden Christian School. In her 31 years, here she has done it all from janitorial, to nurse, to counselor, and even assistant principal. Gerry ahs taught elementary grades for 19 years, before teaching junior high. She is the part time secretary for the church, as well. Gerry has also held the position of assisting financial secretary for the school and church for the past 31 years."
"Gerry spends about 15-20 hours per week after school tutoring students, and on Saturdays you are sure to find her at the school working on next week's stuff or holding detention. In her 43-year teaching span, Gerry has taught an estimated 1,000 students, many of whom are still in contact with her today."
"As if this remarkable woman doesn't do enough for our children in the community, she has also served as Camdenton City Council woman since 2004. As such she has an active role in the business community. She has overseen to better financial support for our law enforcement officers, as well as the sidewalk, and pedestrian bridge project on Highway 54. She has served on the planning and zoning committee since 2004, which is helping with the grown and development of Camdenton."
"I believe Gerry has made a huge mark on our community, her family, her students and her church. She certainly has made her mark on me. In our house, she is our mentor, our strength, our love, our mom and our grandma."
Honoring other nominees
The Lake Today received so many wonderful nominations for this first-time contest, that they also wanted to honor additional women the judges also felt were in closing running with the winners.
Here are the six honorable mention recipients, who will be featured in upcoming issues of The Lake Today along with other nominees.
• Cindy Davenport: Cindy, of Versailles, is the executive director of the Royal Arts Council in downtown Versailles, running and promoting productions, art exhibits and other events that come to the Royal Theatre and Dimond Annex. She also has been instrumental in preserving and restoring the historic theatre and promoting the arts in the Lake Area and throughout the surrounding communities and state.
• Kathy Odom: Kathy, of Osage Beach, is the owner of Sugar Loft Cake Shoppe in Osage Beach. She also stays heavily involved in the community by donating her incredible cakes and treats for a variety of local, statewide and national charitable events, fundraisers and galas such as Bikers for Babies, Make a Wish Foundation, CADV, March of Dimes, local animal shelters and most recently the 100th Anniversary expo for the Girl Scouts of Missouri.
• Crystal Rieesnider: Crystal, of Iberia, is an amazing nurse in the operating room of Lake Regional Hospital. In addition, she is a loving wife and mother who helps others in medical need and able to attend to the needs of her family.
• Elissa Routh: Elissa, of Camdenton, is considered a "stay-at-home" mom but continues her education by pursuing her bachelor's degree online while taking care of her three young and active children. She also assists her sister whose husband is deployed, aids her ailing grandmother and continues to be on site for her oldest child's many extracurricular activities.
• Cherrel Schwintek: Cherrel owns and operates the Curves Club in Eldon, helping fellow women live a healthy lifestyle. Yet, she also is very involved in the community through her past leading and supporting roles in the Miller County Relay for Life and American Cancer Society, holds food drives and sponsors families during the holidays to assist residents in need, and promotes recycling in her community.
• Jill Ward: Jill, of Lake Ozark, is a strong woman of faith, volunteering in numerous activities at Lake Ozark Christian Church. She, as well as her husband, are terrific dancers, attend and support the Lake Arts Council and are devoted to their family, grandchildren and community through kindness and "lots of hugs."