Each year South Peninsula Haven House holds its annual Women of Distinction event to honor cross-generational contributions of women in the community.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the event in March. In lieu of the event, Haven House has created videos featuring the honorees. Those can be viewed at www.facebook.com/havenhousealaska/ or at havenhousealaska.org/2020-women-of-distinction-online-videos.
Honored are Woman of Distinction Kyra Wagner, Woman of Wisdom Roberta Highland, and Young Woman of Distinction Daisy Kettle. Haven House staff also awards a Hero of the Heart to honor a volunteer who has contributed significantly to the nonprofit. This year’s Hero of the Heart is Gregory Drais.
The Woman of Distinction award honors a recipient accomplished within her field who is a leader with compassion and respect for all people. Wagner is the District Manager of Homer Soil and Water Conservation, coordinator of Sustainable Homer and coordinator of the Homer Alaska Solar Tour. She sits on the board of the North Gulf Oceanic Society and on the steering committee for the MAPP Community Health Coalition, contributes weekly to the Homer News Farmers Market column and coaches the Homer High School’s Drama, Debate and Forensics teams. She is heavily involved with the Homer Farmers Market, the Alaska Association of Farmers Markets, and the Alaska Food Policy Council. She was last year’s grand marshal for the Chamber’s Fourth of July parade and in 2014 received the Homer Public Library’s Lifelong Learner Award.
“Whatever she is involved in …, Kyra does so in the spirit of nurturing healthy individuals and building a sustainable community. She is truly a Woman of Distinction,” a Haven House press release said.
“There are really high standards for community engagement in this town and I’m inspired by all the role models around me,” Kyra said in the press release of receiving this award. “This is a huge honor and is the ultimate feedback that what I’m doing is appreciated.”
The Woman of Wisdom award honors a woman who is an inspiration and a mentor willing to share her experience. A former realtor and nurse and a Homer resident for the past 35 years, Highland works for the betterment of life in her community and around the state. Committed to a clean environment, renewable energy and public health, she strives to help shift the paradigm from rampant development to responsible development.
The President of the board of the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, Highland was an early board member with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and a founding board member with Kachemak Heritage Land Trust. She is co-chair for Citizens for Responsible Land Use, has participated in the Homer Electric Association’s members forums, and together with her husband Robert, other community members and KHLT, helped to preserve the Diamond Creek Recreational Area lands on Baycrest Hill. She has made many contributions to the City of Homer, including serving on the Planning Commission, helping to establish the South Peninsula Hospital Homer Health Program, and is a founding member of the Jack Gist Recreational Area and a founding member and president of the Kachemak Bay Equestrian Association.
“Roberta’s leadership, enthusiasm, concern for others, passionate love of the environment, willingness to talk to anyone on any issue and her breadth of knowledge make her a quintessential Woman of Wisdom,” the Haven House announcement read.
“There are so many amazing people in Homer and I have never stopped being awed by that,” Highland is quoted as saying in the press release. “I know that I’m following in the footsteps of some pretty spectacular women, and it is a wonderful honor.”
The Young Woman of Distinction award honors an exceptional young woman who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in her school and community who has inspired her peers to follow her example. Homer High School senior Kettle is passionate about having fun and trying new things and is dedicated to environmental activism and helping others. Pursuing her interests with enthusiasm and natural leadership skills, at the heart of her desire to be of service is a love for people and the environment, both of which have been nurtured through her time with Girl Scouts. A Scout since the second grade, Kettle is currently completing her Gold Award project whose theme is single use plastics and climate.
She campaigned for the bag ban, organized the Homer High climate strike, revived the Homer chapter of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action and is currently writing a resolution that the high school stop using plastic utensils. At school, she has received awards including Mariner on the Move and runner-up for the statewide Spirit of Youth Award for the teen food project. She has held offices in both Student Council and National Honor Society, is currently senior class president, mentors freshmen and is captain of the soccer team. She is also a principal dancer for Nutcracker and has engaged in all of her pursuits while also taking seven AP classes over the past two years. Homer born and raised, Kettle s college this fall started college this fall with a plan to study International Affairs.
“There are a lot of people in our community who do good things,” Kettle is quoted as saying in the press release. “I’ve watched some pretty amazing girls in my school receive this award over the years, so for me to be recognized is really, really nice.”
Selected by Haven House staff, the Hero of the Heart award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution and difference in the lives at the agency. Drais has been volunteering at Haven House for the past two years. Among his regular duties, he picks up and delivers food donations from Safeway and Save U More. He also does other tasks as needed, like repairing playground equipment, changing lights and hanging shelves.
“Everyone at Haven House treats me really well and validate me in plenty of ways, so this award is the cherry on the top of something that’s already pretty sweet,” Drais is quoted as saying in the Haven House announcement. “I am excited to receive this award and I’m happy to be able to help out as I can.”