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Empowering HeArts honors women

Posted: November 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Ten women who changed lives and shaped their communities were honored Saturday during the fourth annual Empowering HeArts Gala fundraiser at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons.

The event, which is sponsored by Single Mothers Outreach is an “annual celebration of women who have changed lives and shaped their communities,” according to the group’s website.

It also serves as a fundraiser for the group, which provides support and life skills training to single mothers, according to Jeffrey Shapiro, the board president for Single Mothers Outreach.

“This event represents the heart and soul of Single Mothers Outreach,” he said.

The cause holds particular importance for Shapiro, who said he knows firsthand the struggles single mothers can face.

“I was raised by a single mom and I know what she had to go through to raise children on her own,” he said.

This year’s honorees, according to Single Mothers Outreach, were journalist Michele Emerick Buttelman; Leslie Carr, director of professional development at College of the Canyons; Anna Frutos-Sanchez, public affairs region manager for Southern California Edison; Margo Hudson, founder of The Closet on Main; Jenny Ketchepaw, vice president and corporate trainer of Community Bank; Stacie Locke, executive assistant to the CEO of Help Worldwide Inc.; Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Marsha McLean; Gloria Mercado-Fortine, a board member in the William S. Hart Union High School District; Rachel Rodriguez, Psychology graduate from California State University, Northridge; and Heather Stewart, an academy program coordinator at Princess Cruises.

“I think this event really sends a message that women, all women, can do great things and should aspire to do great things,” Mercado-Fortine said.

Each honoree was paired with an artist who rendered a portrait of the honored woman.

“You do the work because you love it, you don’t do it to be recognized,” McLean said. “But when you are, it is very special and very humbling.”

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