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EmpowerHer Woman of Year

From left are Brenda Austin, Protege honoree and 2018 treasurer; Felicia C. Johnson, ABWA national president; Arminta P. Owens, 2019 EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter Woman of the Year; Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes, president and Founder, EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter, and Corinna Aiken, Protege honoree and vice president.

Orangeburg’s EmpowerHer Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association on July 21 held its first Woman of the Year, Recognitions and Anniversary Celebration at the Roquemore Auditorium at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.

EmpowerHer: ‘Diamonds are forever’

President and founder Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes said the event marked a milestone, with the chapter celebrating its first year of existence. It also set the stage for annually naming a Woman of the Year, and presenting honors such as the Founders Empact Award.

EmpowerHer installs 100 members in new Orangeburg ABWA chapter

The EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter was chartered on May 20, 2018, with more than 100 members being installed and receiving pins at the EmpowerHer Diamond Celebration. The celebration reception was held at Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast, Meeting and Events Venue, founded and owned by Jamerson-Holmes.

The mission of the ABWA, established in 1949, is to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition.

Businesswomen’s group starting in Orangeburg

The mission statement of the EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter, founded on March 1, 2018, is: “To be the premier women’s professional league that impacts, connects and empowers working and business women personally and professionally in the greater Orangeburg, S.C., area through networking engagements, educational resources, professional development, community service and lifelong friendships in a refreshing atmosphere."

The 2019 EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter Woman of the Year is Arminta P. Owens.

The Woman of the Year is a long-standing tradition in ABWA to recognize a member that has made a notable contribution to the success of her chapter in the current and/or past award year.

"Mrs. Owen embodies the integrity, professionalism and leadership that is essential for the title of Woman of the Year. Her commitment to the advancement of women is unparalleled,” Jamerson-Holmes said.

Mrs. Owens was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Allendale, later earning a bachelor’s degree from Spellman College before embarking on a 58-year teaching career on the elementary, high school, technical college and collegiate levels.

In doing so, she fulfilled the dream she had from fourth grade of becoming a teacher – an experience she says was “awesome seeing youth grow from one stage to another. She believed she could reach so many people in all walks of life, as was taught and demonstrated by her mother, Charlotte Elizabeth Montague Partridge, and the teachers she encountered throughout pedagogy preparation.

In 1981, she was instrumental in chartering Orangeburg's first ABWA chapter at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, becoming a charter member and then serving as president. It was an opportunity to reach out and give a hand to high school, colleges and four-year college students to embrace and enhance themselves with the availability of more scholarship funds.

She says today that retirement is not a true option. She wants to pass the torch to the new ABWA EmpowerHer Chapter and share tidbits and encouragement to the baby boomers and millennials as they move forward in ABWA.

She is married to Willie B. Owens and they are the proud parents of three adult sons.

The Founders Empact Award for the member having demonstrated the greatest personal and professional growth as a member of the EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter went to Laura Hatt.

"When choosing the Founders Empact Award Recipient I looked for several key attributes: consistency in self enhancement, perseverance, personal and professional growth and development. Laura Hatt embodied them all,” Jamerson-Holmes said.

As part of the mission of ABWA, the EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter participates in recognizing members for outstanding contributions nationally and to the chapter. Other honorees:

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• The Hand of Friendship Inner Circle – ABWA National Recognition: Brenda E. Austin and Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes. An award earned by ABWA Members who demonstrate their active desire to see the American Business Women's Association grow.

• Protégé of the Year: Corinna F. Aiken, Brenda E. Austin, Brooke A. Howard, and Sonya D. Sims. An award recognizing an ABWA Member within their first year of membership who has directly contributed to the success of the chapter in the current award year

• Business Associate of the Year: Chef Fred Holmes, Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast, Meeting and Special Events Venue. An honor for the Business Partner who has directly contributed outstanding service to the EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter.

• Community Associate of the Year: Clarence Bonnette and Janet Bailey. An honor for the Community Associate who has directly contributed outstanding service to the EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter.

The 2019-20 Executive Board is:

• President – Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes

• Vice President – Corinna F. Aiken

• Treasurer – Jacqueline Reed

• Secretary – Shanika L. Williams

The 2018-2019 Executive Board:

• President – Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes

• Vice President – Corinna F. Aiken

• Treasurer – Brenda E. Austin

• Secretary – Sonya D. Sims

The EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter is diverse in age, race, income and occupations. The chapter is actively seeking to mentor young ladies attending local colleges, universities and youth to help ensure that the glass ceiling continues to be shattered. The EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter proudly launched the "Sister Talk" Initiative to mentor college students personally and professionally to assist in bridging the gap from student life to the real world of creating a "Work-Life" balance to boost well being and productivity for their goals, dreams and a successful career. "Sister Talks" were held on university campuses in March with the Social Graces Women’s Student Organization at S.C. State University, chapter adviser, Brandi Wright, and in April with the M.I.S.S. (Motivating and Inspiring Strong Sisterhood) Women's Student Organization, chapter advisor, Shanika Williams.

The EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter has partnered with Edisto Habitat for Humanity, and EmpowerHer's first volunteer initiative was in May 2018 with the National Women Build Week. Additional community partnerships are Palmetto Goodwill, Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina and The Samaritan House of Orangeburg.

The EmpowerHer ABWA Chapter holds monthly Empower Chats every second Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast, Meeting and Events Venue. Admission is $15 for non-members.

For more information, call 803-937-1747, visit www.empowerherabwachapter.org or send an email to EmpowerHerABWAChapter@gmail.com

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