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Spirit of Women Awards Program

Spirit of Women Award Nominations

Spirit of WomenAs a Spirit of Women hospital, each year we give Spirit of Women Awards to unsung heroes in our community. The awards celebrate women who take action to make their communities healthier, safer and a more inspirational place to live.

Nominees are recognized in each of these three categories:

  • Young Person Role Model (ages 14-20)
  • Community Hero (at least 21 years of age)
  • Health Care Hero (clinical professional)

Nominate your community’s unsung hero(es) by March 3, 2014. For more information, call CentraCare Health Foundation at 320-240-2810.

Winners are picked by a committee coordinated by St. Cloud Hospital and CentraCare Health Foundation. All winners receive recognition for their work and a $1,000 award to further their community commitment.

2013 Spirit of Women Awards

In 2013, the Spirit of Women Awards recognized:

Jenna Schyma - Young Person Role Model

Being raised on a family dairy farm in Foley, Minn., instilled the value of hard work in Jenna Schyma.

Jenna, a 2013 graduate of Foley High School, maintained a 3.97 GPA while participating in track, swimming and the National Honor Society. She was also involved in the Future Farmers of America (FFA), gaining leadership and business experience.

Jenna went on to combine her love of horses and passion for helping special needs children by volunteering at a local therapeutic horseback riding center. Soon after, she was offered a job there.

In 2013 Jenna won the Minnesota Star of Agribusiness award from the state FFA organization. That award included a scholarship, which she will use to further her education in therapeutic riding.

Jenna is working on completing her certification from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship so she can become an independent instructor at the program.

In the fall Jenna will go to college for pediatric occupational therapy.

Debbie Erickson - Community Hero

Debbie Erickson quickly became involved with the Imagination Library program when she moved to St. Cloud in 2004. Imagination Library provides two free books per month up to the child’s fifth birthday for any child in the area. Last year the program reached more than 11,500 children locally. Debbie developed a progressive dinner fundraiser idea for the Imagination Library program. She elicited the help of others to bring her idea to reality and has subsequently raised more than $100,000 in four years.

Debbie was nominated by the vice president of United Way for her leadership in a variety of United Way programs. She chairs the Success by 6 Partnership team. Her leadership of this taskforce has created an initiative that has reached more than 30,000 families through development and distribution of a handout that provides invaluable parent resources to local families. The goal of Success by 6 is to ensure that all local children are prepared to be successful in kindergarten.

Linda Koltes - Health Care Hero

Growing up in a large family with eleven children, Linda Koltes knows what it means to help others and to have others help you. Her father died at a young age, leaving her mother to make ends meet. As early as her junior year in high school, Linda knew she wanted to be a social worker. Her passion was driven from being a recipient of help from others while growing up.

Her first position as a young social worker was with the Tri-County Action Program, whose mission was to expand opportunities for the economic and social well being of local residents and the development of the communities they served. In this organization, Linda worked to educate young women so they would not rely on public assistance programs, but instead give them tools and resources to be independent.

Linda was nominated for the Spirit of Women Healthcare Hero category for her work at Area Learning Center, an alternative setting for high school students in St. Cloud School District 742. The program targeted female high school students with young children. The goal was to ensure that the young women complete their education and assist them in learning necessary parenting skills in order to “break the cycle.” Linda’s team consists of a nurse, parent educator and herself.

Past Spirit of Women Award Winners

2012 Winners

  • Jennifer Fleegel - Young Person Role Model (Ages 14-20)
  • Maxine Olson - Community Hero (At least 21 years of age)
  • Kathleen Rieke - Health Care Hero (Clinical professional)

2011 Winners

  • Briana Traut - Young Person Role Model
  • Brianda Cediel - Community Hero
  • Marilyn Peitso, MD - Health Care Hero

2010 Winners

  • Grace Balfanz - Young Person Role Model
  • Jacque French - Community Hero
  • Terri McCaffrey - Health Care Hero

2009 Winners

  • Kelsey Krueger – Young Person Role Model
  • Sandi Schulzetenberg – Community Hero
  • Dani Jakubowski – Health Care Hero


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