SWARTZ CREEK — The GFWC Swartz Creek Women’s Club has selected Tonia R. Cole, RN, as the recipient of the club’s first-ever Most Admired Woman award.
In nominating Cole, Kathy Thomason wrote, “Tonia is a person with a heart like no other. She is selfless and totally devoted to her faith, family and business, as well. She has worked the frontlines in ICU for many years, none comparing to 2020. She has donated a kidney to a coworker in need, putting her own life in the hands of God by doing so.”
Cole was on a business journey with Young Living, helping others regain and maintain their health, and was unable to attend the award ceremony Sept. 12 at Feather ‘N’ Fin.
Cole was among seven nominees. All have made significant contributions to the benefit of the community.
Diane LaBree nominated Dr. Beverly Walker- Griffea; artist Sandy Ezell nominated Sharlene Howe, owner of Howe Art Supply; Steve Long nominated reporter Angie Hendershot; Swartz Creek Area Fire Chief Dave Plumb nominated Firefighter Lori McKerracher; Christina Plumb nominated Trudy Plumb; and Korene Kelly nominated Janet Jennings.
GFWC member Tina Plumb said the idea of the award arose during discussions about celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
“We should uplift women every day,” Plumb said. “Obviously, if a young girl was here today, she would have a lot of people to look up to.”
The 19th Amendment states “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Congress passed the amendment June 4, 1919. It was ratified Aug. 18, 1920.
Swartz Creek City Councilwoman and club member Rae Lynn Hicks, dressed in attire representative of the 1920s, remarked about the legacy of the suffragettes and the debt owed to them by the following generations of women.
In the 19th century, women were expected to be pious, pure and submissive, dependent and domestic, Hicks said.
“They had no rights,” she said. “Any earnings belonged to their husbands.”
Women who did not meet those criteria, who spoke against the injustice, were considered “unappealing, bossy and belligerent,” Hicks said, adding that these days, outspoken women are praised for being “strong-willed, persistent and feisty.”