Honoring a woman influencing women

The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce is searching for a worthy recipient of the Athena Award, a national honor that has been adopted by the Chamber of Commerce to award members of the community who are dedicated to influencing the lives of young women.

Chamber of Commerce Director Earlene Kilpatrick is responsible, in collaboration with past Athena winners, for choosing this year’s recipient. The task of choosing a winner out of the large amount of worthy applicants is always a challenge, she said.

“I have enjoyed every step of the application process,” said Kilpatrick, who is also a former Athena Award recipient. “However, there are so many positive and dedicated women in the community that the decision-making process has proven very challenging.”

The Athena Award is important to the city of Bowling Green because it encourages a sense of community and among Bowling Green women, Kilpatrick said.

“The award proves that when you have that deep of a commitment you are only enhancing the quality of life in your community,” Kilpatrick said. “The big picture is that the quality of life is important for everyone and women need to be a part of that.”

Lydia Newlove was awarded the Bowling Green Athena Award in 2003, just 15 years after her daughter Caroline received the same award in 1988. The two were the first mother and daughter in the nation to both receive the award.

When Caroline was just beginning her career, she taught herself to play golf so that she could join in on the business deals on the green which had previously been “boys only.” Caroline credits her mother for her success.

“She pushed all of us to be the most productive we could be,” Caroline said. “We were never told that we could not do something and I think that really shaped me”

Lydia Newlove has been helping influence women for many years by encouraging them to succeed in business and by not accepting defeat in tough circumstances.

“The impression I have tried to give is that you are only limited to your abilities,” Lydia said. “My aim has always been to help women in any way I could.”

Caroline said there is a definite difference between the young women of 2008 and 1988, when she received the Athena Award.

“Young girls are not afraid to try things now,” Caroline said. “We are now being judged more on our merit rather than gender and I think that is very important to the character of young women.”

The Athena Award has been a part of the Bowling Green community since 1985. Kilpatrick sees the award being continued for many years.

“The award is a great honor,” Kilpatrick said. “What is really amazing about the experience is realizing that there are so many positive and wonderful members of the community who are promoting the success of women.”

This year’s award will be presented at the annual Chamber of Commerce dinner and dance on Jan. 24.