Penny Dora named Woman’s Action Network Woman of Year

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 9:47 am on Friday, November 02, 2012

Many friends, family and colleagues came out to congratulate Penny Dora for being the Woman’s Action Network Woman of the Year. From left, back row, Lenny Eldred, Blake Hollenbeck, Sen. Judy Emmons, Kathy Engel, Jerry McCoy, Gary Valentine, Aaron Crebessa, Norice Rasmussen; middle row, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp representative, Rep. Rick Outman, Mayor Pro Tem Jeanne Cunliffe, Michelle Goodwin, Rachel Hollenbeck, Abbey Dora, Andrea Krause; front row, Lisa Lund, Glen Dora, Penny Dora and Fran Gibbs.


MAISD executive assistant earns award in “true Penny fashion.”

GREENVILLE — The Woman’s Action Network (WAN) announced Penny Dora as its 2012 Woman of the Year.

Dora, executive assistant at the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District (MAISD), was honored by family, friends and colleagues Thursday night at the Ash Technology and Learning Center in Greenville.

“This has been a truly overwhelming and an incredibly humbling experience,” Dora said.

WAN is a local organization that responds to the needs of women in the Greenville area. It selects a woman of the year from nominations by the community and honors that recipient in a night of celebration “toasting and roasting with friends and family.”

Penny Dora, who was announced as the 2012 Woman of the Year by the Women’s Action Network (WAN) Thursday night, holds a canvas made by Brad Harrington, showcasing her letter of nomination that was presented to her by the WAN.

“(The WAN) is very pleased to honor Penny Dora,” said mistress of ceremonies Andrea Krause. “She exemplifies a true woman of the year.”

The 2011 Woman of the Year, Lincoln Heights Elementary School Principal Michelle Blaszczynski, presented Dora with “the vase,” which each speaker, toaster and roaster placed a flower in as they honored Dora.

“I am blessed to know Penny,” Blaszczynski said, saying the vase tradition is symbolic, with the flowers filling Dora’s heart and the vase, like Dora, filling the hearts of people around her.

The reading of Dora’s nomination letter was done by nominator Lisa Lund, who went into detail about all the organizations where Dora is a member.

“She has a long time commitment to the Greenville area,” Lund said.

Dora participates in the Greenville Rotary Club, suicide prevention, Yellow Jacket Run and more.

“To Lisa and the WAN, I express my sincere gratitude to you for all of this,” Dora said.

During the ceremony, Dora was presented with proclamations and tributes from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, State Sen. Judy Emmons, U.S. Rep. Rick Outman — which was also signed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley — and Greenville Mayor John Hoppough.

The toast and roast section of the ceremony consisted of stories and thoughts told by friends, family and co-workers that led to both laughs and tears for Dora.

Roasters and toasters included Glen Dora, Michelle Goodwin, Norice Rasmussen, Kathy Engel, Fran Gibbs, Gary Valentine, Rachel Hollenbeck, Aaron Crebessa, Jerry McCoy, Abbey Dora, Blake Hollenbeck and Lenny Eldred.

“Thank you, WAN, for acknowledging the reasons why I love her,” Glen Dora said of his wife.

Goodwin congratulated Dora for her honor on behalf of the MAISD, noting everyone who has been touched by her is a better person.

Penny Dora, 2012 Women’s Action Network Woman of the Year, was surprised to see many members of her family attend Thursday’s event. From left, back row, Melissa Block, Rhonda Gruss, Kim Dora, Nate Dora, Rodney Zeller, Connie Zeller, Glen Dora, Abbey Dora,Chanelle Ring hold Chloe Ring; front row, Kim Kile, Laura Morrill holding Riley Morrill, Penny Dora, Leo Dora and Barb Dora.

“There is not a student, teacher or administrator (in the district) that hasn’t been touched by you,” Goodwin said.

Gibbs told stories about Dora and the time they spent working together at the hospital. Gibbs said no matter what the situation or who the person was, Dora was always willing to help, in a very selfless way.

One story included a hard time for Dora when the Dora family lost everything in a fire — it was the only day, Gibbs said, Dora was ever late for work.

She explained by that afternoon, Dora had already started pulling things together for her and her family.

“When she does things, she does it with a smile,” Gibbs said of Dora. “Even in a crisis, she still had a smile.”

Valentine told of the time he was an emergency medical technician and worked with Dora at the hospital.

Not only was Dora a lot of fun, Valentine said, but she had always had a strong work ethic.

“She is somebody I admire,” Valentine said. “She is a leader and leads by example. She knows the true meaning of volunteerism.”

Rachel Hollenbeck reminisced on her friendship with Dora and the fun times they share with each other.

“She does things in true Penny fashion,” she said. “She always gives so much to so many.”

Eldred talked of the time his son needed a bone marrow transplant and was not sure where to begin to put anything together.
Dora, he said, stepped right up and knew what to do and put together an event for his son.

“I will take that to heaven with me,” Eldred said to Dora.

Among many other “thank you’s” Dora said Thursday night, it was family she thanked the most because of the support they gave throughout everything she has done.

“I couldn’t do any of these things without their help,” Dora said. “I know that I am truly blessed.”

Dora said she thanks God for not only giving her so much, but reminding her of the importance of giving back.

“I don’t do any of these things by myself,” Dora said. “I am inspired by all the incredibly generous people around me and the things that they do.”

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