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Five Coast women honored at 10th Annual Caring Women Awards

SHANNON DAVIDSON/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD 
 Nearly 175 guests listen as Kathy Springer, assistant administrater, Merit Health Biloxi give recognition to the nominees for the 2016 Clebration of Caring Women Awards on Wednesday at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino.
SHANNON DAVIDSON/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD Nearly 175 guests listen as Kathy Springer, assistant administrater, Merit Health Biloxi give recognition to the nominees for the 2016 Clebration of Caring Women Awards on Wednesday at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino.

BILOXI -- The 10th Annual Celebration of Caring Women Awards were held Wednesday to honor and give recognition to five outstanding women in the community.

The event, hosted by Merit Health Biloxi and Cable One, was held at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino with about 175 in attendance.

The women honored demonstrated selfless acts of service and were awarded in the categories of Leadership, Perseverance, Mentor, Defender and Promise.

"What these ladies are doing in the community that few know about is amazing," said Kathy Springer, assistant administrator, Merit Health Biloxi. "Along with keeping their house going and raising their children and working at their jobs, they are giving of their talent and their time and their resources for the betterment of other people. They all have the commonality of giving without thinking. When they are called into service and called into action they don't even think about it. They just do it."

Leadership Award

Cynthia Powell was presented with the Leadership Award for her encouragement in inspiring others to take action.

Powell volunteers for Outreach Senior Ministries where she visits weekly with seniors.

She has made an impact on seniors living in East Biloxi as she heads a free monthly "Breakfast and Craft" event preparing and serving breakfast for roughly 30 seniors. As an active member of St. Michael's Catholic Church, Powell is team captain for their Relay for Life Walk and Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk.

Perseverance Award

Rachel Payne was acknowledged with the Perseverance Award for overcoming a personal adversity.

Payne is an advocate for organ donation and a volunteer for Donate Life, raising donor awareness.

At age 18, Payne was diagnosed with an immune disorder called IgA Nephropathy when was in basic training for the United States Marine Corps and had a bad reaction after receiving the first series of the anthrax vaccine.

She was informed that she needed a kidney transplant and received it on Nov. 3, 2000. Payne now focuses on donor awareness and raising her son Isaac.

Mentor Award

Donna Burke was recognized as a mentor in the community encouraging success in her students at her dance studio, Donna's Visual and Performing Arts Center.

As a dance educator, she has had generations of youth come through her studio winning awards and competitions throughout the United States. Burke said her most-rewarding achievement is seeing her students grow and become courageous adults ready to face the world.

Defender Award

Anna Marie Jacobs was received the Defender Award for championing the cause of the disadvantaged.

Jacobs and her husband, John, served as Ambassadors for The March of Dimes after suffering the loss of their infant daughter.

They traveled to Washington, D.C., to share their story and experiences in order to help further the mission of The March of Dimes.

Turning her grief to help others Jacobs helped create and Seashore Mission of Biloxi, a homeless ministry program and is a board member of the Tired Dog Rescue.

In her job as a grief counselor with Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA), Jacobs assists those in discomfort.

Promise Award

St. Patrick student Chloe Rizk was given the Promise Award for demonstrating a commitment to high personal standards.

An anti-bullying advocate, she began a bake sale to purchase anti-bullying bracelets for the student body.

Rizk leads a yearly red-ribbon week to promote a drug-free environment, "Are you a smartee or dum-dum" buckle-up for driving safety and an activity to promote "World Kindness Day."

She coordinated a "Twenty Twinkling Stars" activity, where students went to elementary schools to teach kindergarten and first-graders about positive self images.

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