(Back row left to right) Blueberry Beeton, Johnna Stanton (red cowl), Roberta Jordan, Dawn Lee, Leslie Krichko, Devon Gallice, Leslie Trundy, Donna Verhoeven, Jennifer Peavey and Kim Gates. (Second row left to right) Brenda Fagan, Carolyn Nichols, Katie Joseph, Maria Morris, Allison Hepler and Cmd. Megan Drewniak. (Front row left to right) Morse High School Women’s Empowerment Club: Grace Tetreault, Nadia Panetski, Natalie Emmerson, Addie Hinds, Elena Trundy and Gwen Panetski. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Celebrating the start of Women’s History Month, the Morse High School Women’s Empowerment Club recognized 18 women in the community for their professional achievements and work with local students.

The ceremony was held at the Patten Free Library art gallery, filled with work by local female artists, on Wednesday night.

“These women don’t do what they do for praise or recognition; they make their impact out of a love for the kids of this community and the people around them because it’s the right thing to do,” said Natalie Emmerson, president of the Women’s Empowerment Club. “They are some of the hardest-working and most humble people you will ever meet.”

Morse High School graduate Emma Beauregard founded the Women’s Empowerment Club in 2021.

The club recognized educators, librarians, counselors, Olympic athletes, politicians, nonprofit directors, Girl Scout leaders, construction workers and a member of the Coast Guard. The honorees were Allison Hepler of Woolwich, Blueberry Beeton of Woolwich, Brenda Fagan of Brunswick, Carolyn Nichols of Brunswick, Cassie Tarbox, Dawn Lee of West Bath, Devon Gallice of Phippsburg, Donna Verhoeven, Jenn Peavey, Johnna Stanton of Bath, Katie Joseph of Brunswick, Kim Gates of Bath, Leslie Krichko of Brunswick, Leslie Trundy of Bath, Maria Morris, Megan Drewniak of Woolwich, Phyllis Wolfe of Bath and Roberta Jordan.

Sen. Eloise Vitelli took to the podium and said the essential traits to become a successful leader are to care, to be curious and to connect.


“There has to be a spark of caring and compassion that drives you. Caring also drives empathy. Excellent leaders have empathy,” she said.

Vitelli stressed the importance of community and working as a unit. She said one of Maine’s strengths is its “economy of intimacy.”

“Women are pretty good at building relationships. Hardly any of us accomplish anything totally on our own,” Vitelli said.

Morse High School science teacher Carolyn Nichols was recognized at the ceremony for her 21 years with Regional School Unit 1. She was praised for founding the school’s first bee club and running a small art business of her own. Five of her wildlife paintings are hanging in the Women’s Empowerment Gallery.

“It’s important that women recognize women for what they do,” Nichols said.

Nichols said women have been supporting each other for decades but have transformed their alliance from sewing circles to clubs like the one at Morse High School. She said her success was built on the back of her mother, a woman who raised three children on her own and worked three jobs to send them to college.


Students also recognized state Rep. Allison Hepler, D-Woolwich, for serving three terms on the Woolwich Select Board and in the Maine House. 

Remaining humble about her own accomplishments, Hepler said she was most impressed with the Women’s Empowerment Club and their can-do attitude and persistence to problem solve.

“I am in an amazing group of people,” Helper said. “The future is in good hands.”

“Each and every one of the women gathered here today, and not just the women being recognized, give us confidence and are paving the way for the young women of this community,” Emmerson said.

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