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Classic Woman Awards 2007

Meet five wonderful women who exemplify the best in American volunteerism.

Written by Rebecca Christian
  • Michael Weschler

    Orphans. Refugees. Wars. Floods. Elderly people in need. The classic women we salute in our November issue don’t have time to bemoan the ways of the world; they’re too busy changing it.

    It is to the quiet passion of these untiring women that we dedicate this issue, and that we honor the nominees selected as recipients of a 2007 Traditional Home Classic Woman Award. On these pages, you’ll meet our five national honorees, nominated by readers from around the country, recognized at a ceremony in New York City on October 10, and celebrated here.

    But other unsung heroines you told us about deserve accolades, too. For many, charity began at home after they suffered personal travails. But as they began rescuing others in circumstances similar to their own, their efforts gathered momentum and spread throughout their communities and even around the globe.

    Consider Betty Jo Knott of Orange Park, Florida, whose daughter Rhonda, now an adult, was born with cerebral palsy and brain damage. Refusing to settle for what others told her to expect, she taught Rhonda to walk, started a preschool for children with multiple handicaps, and cofounded an agency that offers camps, a day treatment program, and residential group homes for special-needs children and adults.

    In New York, empty-nester Colleen Knauf was ready to kick back and play golf. That is, until she helped her church resettle a Somalian family. Eventually, her refugee center moved from her garage and became Saint’s Place, where services include language tutoring and child care.

    Out in the Northwest, Zöe Higheagle-Strong of the Nez Percé tribe and husband Mack Strong of the Seattle Seahawks founded Team-Works Academy and After School Program to assist Native American youth at risk for suicide and drug, alcohol, and academic problems. In her spare time, Zöe is a college student and mother of two busy boys.

    Former model Allison Clarke began Flashes of Hope in Cleveland when her son underwent cancer treatments and she realized that professional photographs could make children feel dazzling during difficult experiences. We could go on, but like Allison, who is taking her program national, you get the picture. As novelist Virginia Woolf wrote, "As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, my country is the world."

    Photography: Michael Weschler

  • Michael Weschler

    Cheri Brown Thompson
    The Healing Species
    Orangeburg, South Carolina

    Text: Akiko Busch

  • Michael Weschler
  • Michael Weschler
  • Michael Weschler
  • Michael Weschler