ALPENA - Diane Speer, lifestyles editor at the Alpena News and proud wife, mother and grandmother, was the recipient of the 2013 Athena Award on Wednesday at the Sanctuary Inn.
Speer said she was humbled and overwhelmed to be recognized for something she loves to do.
"I'm totally surprised," she said. "I'm very shocked but very humbled and grateful. To think I can get an award for that is exciting. I love being able to write."
Besides being a member of the press, Speer is known for her work ethic and friendliness around the community. She is the dean of Children's Ministries at her church, First Baptist, works in the Wednesday night children's program, and assists with Vacation Bible School and the church's nursery.
In addition she has been part of the Friends of the Library, Passport to the Arts, Alpena Regional Medical Center's Community Development Council and the Founders Society of the Besser Museum. She is a founding member of the Cottage Book Club and served on the Authors in the Fall promotion committee at the Alpena County Library.
As lifestyles editor at The News, Speer oversees the daily lifestyles section, heads the newspaper's bi-annual cookbook, produces the annual wedding edition and prepares the Community Calendar of Events for every Tuesday.
"I love Alpena and being able to just write about all the fun things that take place here and all the amazing people, it's fun," Speer said. "I'm just very appreciative. Alpena is my adopted home."
Besides Speer, Nancy Montie and Elaine Orr also were honored as nominees this year. Montie has been working with Beser Credit Union since 1977 and was instrumental in the growth and development of the institution, and is now the CEO. She also spends much of her time in community service as a member of the United Way Board of Directors.
Orr has held a number of positions at Alpena Power since 1985 and has advanced through the ranks to her current title of executive vice president. In community service, Orr has been a member of Kiwanis since 1993 and served on the Alpena Community College Foundation Board of Trustees since 2002. She also contributes to the advancement of young women through her service with the Miss Sunrise Side pageants as a judge.
Rev. Steven Hammond, 2012 Athena recipient, highlighted the qualities of Athena nominees before announcing the 2013 Athena Award recipient.
"Professional excellence, improving the quality of life for other people, and encouraging and enabling others to reach their full potential are all elements of an Athena Award nominee and recipient," he said. "Every nominee makes a substantial contribution to the community ... and a significant difference in the lives of other people."
Hammond spoke about the importance of serving the community and how each nominee has played an important role in the community.
"The greatness of the community is not how many of us rise to the top, but how it is that we serve and inspire others," Hammond said. "Each of these women have deserved their nomination."
Speer talked about the importance of support from her family and friends when she received the award, and how honored she was to be nominated.
"I just am very humbled and very thankful to the Athena community for establishing the award, and I felt all along I was in great company with Nancy and Elaine and I really thought it should have been one of them in my own mind," she said. "I thank my family and friends for being here. I have my husband Bill, who's always my rock, and my oldest son Jeremy and my beautiful granddaughter Isabelle and my friends who I call my chosen family ... most of all I thank God. I wouldn't be up here today without Him."
Past recipients also took place in the award banquet, including 2011 recipient Carol Shafto, 2009 recipient Penny Boldrey, 2012 recipient Steven Hammond and 2010 recipient Marie Williams.
The selection committee was made up of 2004 recipient Dr. Richard Bates, 1997 recipient Kathy Stepaniak, Paul Rogers of Lafarge Cement - Alpena Plant, Mike Mahler of First Federal of Northern Michigan, Bernie Lamp of Straley, Ilsley & Lamp, and Joyce Brilinski of Thunder Bay Accounting.
The guest speaker for the banquet was Megan Raphael, president of Megan Raphael Consulting and author of "The Courage Code." The banquet was sponsored by the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, First Federal of Northern Michigan, Lafarge Cement and the Zonta Club of Alpena.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.