LIMA — The three finalists for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award have shown a willingness to help women reach their full potential, providing mentorship and assistance for individuals who are establishing their careers and for those who are down on their luck.
Julianne Frankhouser, Tracie Sanchez and Tammie Colon are especially adept at helping women find hope and empowerment amid difficult situations, which was one of the main reasons they are finalists for the award.
Julianne Frankhouser wears many hats. She is the executive director of Guiding Light Ministries, a home health nurse for St. Rita’s Medical Center and a pastor at Living Faith Temple.
In each of her leadership positions, Frankhouser helps empower women who are “down and out.” Many of these women are in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, and some have lost care of their children because of their addictions. Others have come from unstable families, and lack the support from people who should be there for them.
“By providing services to women who are in tough situations, they learn the skills necessary to regain their life with a fresh perspective,” Frankhouser said. “We encourage and empower them to be independent, self sufficient and to utilize the resources available to get a job and keep their family together. That’s our goal.”
Frankhouser said there are many examples of women who have turned their lives around thanks to her help. She told a story of a woman who had tried and failed to overcome her drug addiction until she finally “owned her own recovery.” Frankhouser encouraged her to find her own residence, buy a car and take classes to improve her situation.
“She was able to revive her life and rebuild those bridges,” she said. “That can take some time to do, but that’s just one example of a success story.”
Tracie Sanchez has owned Lima Pallet Co. since 2008. She employs more than 50 people, including ex-felons and drug offenders. She said she believes in giving people a second chance, and working for Lima Pallet is a way for them to turn their lives around.
“I take a lot of pride in helping make someone’s life better,” Sanchez said.
She added that it’s especially empowering to see women who have lost care of their children work to improve their situation for the betterment of themselves and their family.
“Seeing women get their children back and bringing their family back together is something I take pride in,” she said.
But Sanchez isn’t just helping her employees and women who are experiencing a crisis in their lives, she’s also empowering those who are just getting their start in the business community.
“I take on the role of helping them get their 100 percent women-owned business status,” she said. “A lot of times they come to me with challenges they face as women business owners, so I tell them to look at it as an opportunity, not a challenge.
“That said, I still don’t view myself as a mentor. To me, it’s just the right thing to do.”
Tammie Colon is a chief officer at Coleman Behavioral Health, a mental health facility that provides services and resources for individuals in crisis.
Though social work is predominately a female profession, Colon said most administrators are men. Early in her career, she recognized that women were doing much of the work but were not maximizing their influence, which led her to rekindle her desire to take on a leadership role.
She acquired a master’s degree in business and another in social work. She said the experience made her realize that she wanted to use her expertise to help advance social work in the community, and become a leader in the mental health and substance abuse fields.
Highlights of her career include the implementation of the We Care at Work Regional Crisis Center, a collaboration with Lima Memorial Health System that resulted in an on-site pharmacy for people with severe mental health issues, and the establishment of the Father’s Accountable for Children’s Tomorrows program.
“My position is a never-ending opportunity to embrace initiatives that will live long beyond my career,” Colon said. “My career and its success have shown that opportunity is real for women.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.