OWL selects 12 women to receive ‘WOW’ Award

Generally speaking, acronyms do not describe the organization or institution they represent. In the case of OWL, the Older Women’s League and WOW — Women of Worth, the acronym is highly descriptive. OWL implies wisdom and WOW suggests something extra special. Each year OWL selects a number of outstanding women who have made a significant contribution to the community as their Women of Worth (WOW).

This year OWL, the voice of midlife and older women, has chosen 12, among them four members of the St. Louis Jewish community — Susan Fadem, Joan Quicksilver, Betty Manlin and Bonnie Solomon who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2008 Women of Worth dinner will be held at the Missouri Athletic Club, 405 Washington Ave. at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16. Co-chairing the event are Arlen Chaleff, a former recipient of the award, and Marcella Rose. Reservations at $65 per person ($35 is tax deductible) may be made by sending your check to OWL, 7514 Big Bend Blvd., 63119 or by calling 314-725-5862.

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If my editor gave me this week’s entire issue to introduce you to the WOW nominees, I could fill it with biographical info about Susan, Betty, Joan and Bonnie. Instead you will have to settle for a paragraph apiece which means that all four of them will get short shrift. Having said that let’s start with Susan Fadem, journalist extraordinaire, whose features you read for 16 years when she wrote for the now defunct St. Louis Globe Democrat. In the 38 years she’s written professionally, Susan has produced more than 1,400 bylined articles that appeared in print locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. She has founded the Thinking Woman’s Book Group, the Movie Salon, and as president of the National Federation of Press Women, Missouri Affiliate, she orchestrated its annual writer’s conference for four years. A board member of the St. Louis Press Club, the New Jewish Theatre and Edison Theatre at Washington University, Susan is also a member of Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women and Best of Missouri Hands, a statewide organization of artists and artisans.

Betty Manlin, 94 years young, is doing what she’s done all her life — joyously volunteering to help people, young and old. In Discovering Options Prep programs, she mentors at-risk children in city schools, actively engaging each child, attending school programs, meeting teachers, helping with school work and introducing the child to cultural and educational institutions. A docent at The Butterfly House in Chesterfield, she conducts programs, answers questions and also visits schools, hospitals and other groups to inform them about butterflies. For Lights of Jewish Special Needs Betty helps fundraise for food pantries, and at Children’s Hospital she designs and sews blankets for patients. A former airline stewardess, she participated in an interactive video filmed for the Missouri Historical Society’s Aviation Exhibition and afterward joined a focus group that advises the society on exhibits. What’s more, Betty will celebrate her 95th birthday on Nov. 23!

Joan Quicksilver is a woman who has everything — beauty, brains and an enduring sense of caring for the community. As president for 18 years of her advertising and public relations firm, I.Q. & Associates, she has managed campaigns for a wide variety of businesses and not-for-profits and has chaired fundraisers and events for organizations like The Wellness Community, Women of Achievement, Grand Center, American Liver Foundation, Brandeis University and Jewish Federation. Joan was awarded the National Jewish Federation’s “Leadership Award” for creating the successful fundraising “Phonathon” which evolved into the National Federation Campaign’s “Super Sunday”, held all over the United States. She has served on boards and held office in many organizations including the aforementioned plus Breast Cancer Coalition, Jewish Community Center, The Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis (who inducted her into the prestigious Catfish Club for distinguished service), and the St. Louis Jewish Light. As a wannabe actress when she was very, very young, Joan still loves theatre and has written, directed and produced full scale musicals for a variety of organizations including United Way.

Bonnie Solomon, the recipient of OWL’s Lifetime Achievement Award, was Vice President — Retirement Living Services for Delmar Gardens Enterprises and Director of Garden Villas Retirement Community, positions she held for more than 29 years. Prior to this position she served as Executive Director of Covenant House. Bonnie is recognized as a leader both in the multifamily and seniors housing industry and served multiple terms for many institutions like the St. Louis Home Builders Association. She was President of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, a member of the Jewish Federation Commission on Senior Service Integration and a member of the National Council of Jewish Women Professional Advisory Committee. In recognition of over 35 years as a seniors housing professional and devotion to enhancing and improving the quality of life for older citizens, Bonnie has received numerous local and national awards.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg. These women exemplify OWL’s mission: to address the special concerns of mid-life and older women through advocacy, education and empowerment. Attendance at the WOW dinner both salutes them and supports OWL.