Promoting independence in women

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Frank Gale
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Award winner wants to be an inspiration to her daughters

Victoria Ridgely, left, a community studies student at College of the North Atlantic, was presented the Stephanie Cormier Chaisson Memorial Leadership Award by Janice Kennedy, executive director of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council, on Saturday, March 8, 2014.

Victoria Ridgely of Lourdes wants her two daughters to be independent and is well to showing them firsthand how that’s done.

The community studies student at the College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville was the recipient of the Stephanie Cormier Chaisson Memorial Leadership Award.

Stephanie Cormier Chaisson was a devoted mother and dedicated worker and born leader. As president of the parent committee of Ecole Notre Dame du Cap for many years, she was an inspiration to teachers and students.

Unfortunately, Ms. Cormier Chaisson’s life was cut short when she died in a murder-suicide carried out by her estranged husband Luke Chaisson in March 2012.

The award is a partnership between the Bay St. George Women’s Council and College of the North Atlantic and presented annually to a student of the community studies program who demonstrates leadership and compassion in their community and student life.

Ridgely, 44, returned to school after many years in the workforce and certainly falls in the category of active volunteer. She wants to be a leader and after learning about Ms. Cormier Chaisson’s involvements, felt proud to be receiving the award in her honour. She too is a single woman living on the Port au Port Peninsula who has dreams and aspirations for the future.

For a number of years, Ridgely drove a school bus, but recently decided she wanted to do more and about four months ago entered her first year of the two-year program.

In no time she was helping out in the community, volunteering at the Community Employment Corporation — which provides support to people with intellectual disabilities to find employment, continuing her involvement with the breakfast program in Lourdes and helping out with the Community Café, which supports mental health.

Being an inspiration to her daughters, Haley, who is 17 years old and in Grade 12 and Hannah, who is 11 years old and in Grade 5, is very important to her and she takes pride in the fact she is on her way to becoming a much more independent person. At school, she has risen to the challenge so far and oftentimes her classmates look to her for leadership.

Janice Kennedy, executive director of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council, said Ridgely also reflects the 2014 theme for International Women’s Day of “Inspiring Change.”

Organizations: Council and College of the North Atlantic, Community Employment, Community Café Women Council

Geographic location: Stephenville

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