Celebrating powerful women

Zonta Club honors 5 women with R.O.S.E. awards

Krista Berger (provided photo)

LAKE PLACID — The Zonta Club of the Adirondacks recently honored five local women with its annual R.O.S.E. awards, embracing the purpose of International Women’s Day, March 8 — to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

March 8 is also Zonta Yellow Rose Day, which recognizes those who supported women’s suffrage by wearing yellow roses on their lapels. Each R.O.S.E. award winner was therefore presented with yellow roses. In past years, those awards were handed out during social gatherings; however, due to restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, award winners were honored in private this year, like they were a year ago.

R.O.S.E. is an acronym for “Recognition of Service and Excellence,” and the awards are timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, Zonta Yellow Rose Day and Women’s History Month (March). This year’s honorees are Krista Berger, Mel Frazer, Holly LaBombard-Hull, Stacey Martin and Barabara Rand Ryan.

“It’s definitely a great time to celebrate women,” said Zonta Club of the Adirondacks co-founder Amy Quinn, of Lake Placid. “And, of course, everyone’s always looking for a little boost in the North Country in March, to raise some spirits and have a good-news story in March when everybody’s feeling like they’re over winter.”

All winners said they were surprised to hear about their R.O.S.E. awards.

Mel Frazer (provided photo)

“Which is nice because it’s nice to reward people who aren’t looking to do things to be rewarded, but just because they want to make the community a better place,” Quinn said.

Women are nominated anonymously to the president of the club, and board members choose the winners.

“There are so many stories to share,” Quinn said, “and I think it’s important to share with young women and girls that it’s not just people who get elected as political leaders or become doctors or attorneys; there’s a million ways to make history, and there’s a million ways to make history in your own community and make change in your own community. It can be small but very, very impactful. And I think by sharing these stories, it shows that there are a lot of ways to make an impact in your community.”

Krista Berger

Holly LaBombard-Hull (provided photo)

Krista Berger, of Lake Placid, is the program coordinator for the Essex County Health Department’s WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program. She was a Zonta Club member for two years before having to quit due to time constraints. She’s also a member of the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s been a contact tracer during evenings and weekends.

“Krista is tireless,” Quinn said. “We actually cut Krista’s biography back because it was so long. … The things she accomplishes for women and children in the community and families are extraordinary.”

Words describing Berger’s reaction to winning a R.O.S.E. award included “surprised,” “honored,” “humbled” and “shocked.”

“It’s a great group of ladies, and I can’t believe they put me in with them,” Berger said. “We’re very lucky in our community to have so many strong and powerful women.”

Stacey Martin (provided photo)

Not like powerful as the head of a company.

“Powerful like, ‘I can have an idea and make a change and have it really affect the community,'” she said. “We’re surrounded by so many great women like that here. Lots of my role models.”

Yet there’s one role model that’s close to home, her mother, Carol Brown.

“Through everything, my mom’s been my biggest inspiration,” Berger said. “She was a public health nurse and always took care of everyone.”

What message does the R.O.S.E. awards give to the next generation?

Barbara Rand Ryan (provided photo)

“I just think it empowers women and it shows that the work they do every day is really important, life-changing in some cases,” Berger said. “It’s so important, especially right now. We have such a difficult climate, and women still aren’t being treated fairly in so many areas. So we need to celebrate women and support the important work that all these women are doing.”

Mel Frazer

Mel Frazer, of Lake Placid, is the Lake Placid Elementary School psychologist. She also coaches cross country running and track and field for the Lake Placid High School, both boys and girls, with her husband Bill.

“He’s listed as the boys coach, and I’m listed as the girls coach, but I train all the distance kids and he does all the sprinters,” Frazer said about the track team.

Zonta officials called Frazer a “valued coach and mentor.”

“Even though we did have two women who are in the education system this year, we felt that their work was different,” Quinn said. “Stacey Martin is a primary educator with 6-year-olds. Mel Frazer is a school psychologist, but her work that stands out in the community is her work she does as a coach and a mentor for teenagers, both boys and girls.”

Frazer said the award came as a welcomed surprise.

“It’s been kind of a rough year, so it’s nice to see the appreciation,” she said.

Holly LaBombard-Hull

Holly LaBombard-Hull, of Jay, is the founder and director of Hope for Miracles, a charity that supports funding research for life-saving trials and cures for neuroblastoma, a form of pediatric cancer. Her son Karson is a three-time neuroblastoma survivor, most recently in the fall.

“After the second time, we decided that we really needed to help,” LaBombard-Hull said. “What we learned through visiting Memorial Sloan Kettering (Cancer Center) and Dana-Farber (Cancer Institute) is that only 4% of funds raised for cancer research go to childhood cancer. .. It took me a while to grasp it. It doesn’t make sense.”

So she took action. She created Hope for Miracles.

“They didn’t know how best to help Karson, so it’s really scary as a mom and Cole, his dad, finding out that not only does your child have cancer, which is extremely scary, but there’s no real research. There’s nothing really set in stone as a way to treat it,” she said.

Quinn remembers meeting LaBombard-Hull at a Hope for Miracles fundraiser.

“We were just astounded by the fact that not only is she doing all this work to raise money and awareness, but she was doing it while her own child has cancer,” Quinn said. “That’s such an extraordinary thing to go through as a human, as a mom.”

What message does the R.O.S.E. awards give to the next generation?

“Whatever you set your mind to, if you have passion and you have a heart for it, you can accomplish it,” LaBombard-Hull said. “Just have that goal and keep moving forward.”

Stacey Martin

Stacey Martin, of Keene Valley, is a first-grade teacher at the Lake Placid Elementary School. Zonta Club officials describe her as having “great zeal and exuberance for primary school youth.”

Is that accurate?

“Sure,” Martin said. “I just love the primary grades. They still use their imaginations. They’re loving. They still have love for school. They haven’t lost that.”

Martin said she tries to make her classes as fun as possible. Recently, for example, her students were making leprechaun traps before St. Patrick’s Day.

“I enjoy doing my job every day,” she said. “They trust us to teach them, and they want to learn from us.”

Martin also has a history of volunteering in the town of Keene, whether it’s for a youth program or by helping out the women’s auxiliary at the Keene Volunteer Fire Department. She’s not a member of the auxiliary, but she’s helped out with fundraisers, special events, gardening, etc.

Martin described her reaction to winning the R.O.S.E. award as “uncomfortable.”

“There’s so many other women that deserve this more than I do,” she said.

What message does the R.O.S.E. awards give to the next generation?

“I always tell my girls everybody can do anything as long as you put your mind to it,” Martin said. “And if you really want something, don’t give up on your dreams. Try it and see what happens, and if you succeed, that’s wonderful. … Work hard. Don’t give up. And follow your dreams.”

Barbara Rand Ryan

Barbara Rand Ryan, of Lake Placid, wrote a book of poetry, “A Path to Healing: Journeying Forward After a Loss,” to help her heal from the death of her husband, Dennis Martin Ryan, who died by suicide in 2012. She’s also helped out with the North Country Out of the Darkness Walk, which raises support and funds for suicide prevention education and awareness programs.

Zonta Club officials said they were inspired by Rand Ryan’s work of empowering other survivors of suicide.

“You can’t say enough about promoting suicide awareness because every single life lost is such a tragedy, and we have had so many in the North Country,” Quinn said. “Certainly she could have processed her grief privately, but to write a book and really expose the rawness of her grief in that book as a means of processing it herself and as a means of sharing it for others. Other people, whether touched by suicide or just any sort of grief, could use as a guide for themselves. We thought was pretty special.”

Words that describe Rand Ryan’s reaction to winning a R.O.S.E. award include “honored” and “overwhelmed.”

“Besides being an honor, I feel like it’s women doing wonderful things to help each other,” Rand Ryan said.

Many people have contacted Rand Ryan, saying her book has helped them. And that’s part of her story — not just trying to work through her own pain, but paying it forward by sharing her experiences and feelings.

“Many have had a partner or a friend or somebody die by suicide, and it’s helped them to understand it more because I explain the emotions you go through,” Rand Ryan said. “In the beginning, it’s all so overwhelming because you’re in shock and you’re angry. And then you come to realize that this is an illness. It’s just like any other illness that people need to get help.”

Past winners, future events

This is the fourth year the Zonta Club of the Adirondacks has handed out R.O.S.E. awards. Twelve women were honored in 2018, eight in 2019 and five last year.

“The first year we did a dozen because we thought it would be fun, like a dozen roses,” Quinn said. “But I think it will be five moving forward. It makes it a little more manageable.”

Past honorees were Valerie Abraham-Rogers, Janelle Bausman, Wendy Beeman, Linda Blair, Gail Brill, Liane Colby, Shelby Davis, Mary Dietrich, Barbara Erickson, Kathy Ford, Ruth Hart, Shirley Hosler, Linda Hudson, Lisa Hudson, Anna Izzo, Georgia Jones, Kaysie Kyler, Johanna MacDougall, Kristin Makrin, Patti McConvey, Devann Murphy, Amy Pasco, Vanessa Pillen, Mary Rooks and Linda Shaw Young.

Zonta Club members hope to honor last year’s, this year’s and next year’s R.O.S.E. award winners at a banquet after the pandemic is over.

“We imagine everyone’s going to be ready to celebrate everything in 2022,” Quinn said.