The 2019 Women with Heart luncheon proved two things about Northeast Florida: The region’s women have heart, and its people love them for it.
Held Feb. 6 at the Florida Blue Conference Center in Jacksonville, the sold-out event honored 12 women for their passion and dedication to the community. The luncheon also served as a fundraiser for the Jacksonville-based nonprofit, Volunteers in Medicine.
Founded in 2002, Volunteers in Medicine’s Jacksonville clinic provides working, low-income and uninsured individuals with free outpatient primary and specialty medical services. The clinic is staffed by active and retired physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and specialists, who volunteer their time to provide much-needed medical care to those unable to afford the resource.
The 11 Women with Heart recognized at the luncheon included: Martha Baker, Vickie Cavey, Inger Geraghty, Virginia Hall, Rev. Dr. Helen Jackson, Helga Langthon, Eleanor Lynch, Velma Monteiro-Tribble, Dr. Pam Rama, Ellen Wiss and Sol Wynter. Sherry Magill also received the Dorion-Burt “Heart of Gold” award at the luncheon.
The women were selected as honorees by the nonprofit’s board of directors, key community partners, stakeholders and past Women with Heart honorees.
“I feel humbled,” said Inger Geraghty, a board member for American Heart Association and See the Girl. “It’s definably an honor to be selected. I can’t imagine given how blessed my life is, not giving back to others. (People) need to make sure to find ways to get involved with the community. We all have a place in this community to help others.”
The event was emceed by WJXT4 news anchor Mary Baer and featured a video that highlighted each honoree, providing insight to their formative experiences and mentors. More than anything, the interviews showed the diversity of the women. Stories ranged from Helga Langthon’s childhood in her native Colombian hometown to Martha Baker’s memories of cutting school to help collect donations for the Veteran of Foreign Wars, one that her World War II-veteran father told her he supported.
“I feel I’m non-deserving of this because I am a behind-the-scenes person.” said Velma Monterio-Tribble, the director of grants and programs at the Florida Blue Foundation. “I don’t mind doing all these things, but I certainly don’t do it to get an award for it. I feel it’s the right thing to do — pay it forward.”
The “Women with Heart” Luncheon kicks off a year-long signature awareness and fundraising campaign for Volunteers in Medicine. Each honoree has committed to a month of advocacy and service to the clinic. During their month of service, Women with Heart honorees will wear the new 2019 “Heart of Jacksonville” — a $15,000 diamond necklace custom designed by Allen’s Jewelers. The necklace will serve as a conversation starter to further increase awareness of the mission of Volunteers in Medicine.