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Greater Hilltop Community Development Corp. Website



Women Of Character Awards 
10 years of Community Service

The annual event is sponsored by the Greater Hilltop Community Development Corporation and the Westside Messenger Newspaper.  The Hilltop community nominates Women for their service to the Hilltop Community.  All of the nominees are featured in the Hilltop Parade on a float sponsored by the Messenger.  Three nominees are chosen as award winners and recognized at the annual fall event.

For the past few years  the event has been held at the new Department of Safety building on West Broad Street. The parking facilities, large auditorium and in-house catering service offer opportunities for expansion of the program. For many West siders' it is a unique opportunity to see the State Facilities including the new public art plaza, featuring Hilltop Historical artifacts. This newly installed public art has seating with has a great view of the downtown Columbus skyline.

  • 1999 Awards
  • 1998 Awards to: Patti Ongaro, Jan Stone, Michelle Sutton
  • 1997 Awards to: Valarie Gallaer, Lois Neff, Louise Timlin, Marjorie Wynn
  • 1996 Awards to: Weida Belk, Blythe Ann Cooper, Elizabeth Reid, Jaymes Saunders
  • 1995 Awards to: Christina Encarnanze, Bea Murphy, Sharon Pennell
  • 1994 Awards to: Barbara Highbargin, Janet Jones, Lois Latsche
  • 1993 Awards to: Lucille Alexander, Jamie Balijak, Peggy Taylor
  • 1992 Awards to: Blythe Hitch, Marie Hope, Marjorie Marlow
  • 1991 Awards to: Margaret Brown, Pat Brown Cynthia Steinke

To nominate candidates watch The Messenger in early fall when they post nominating forms. Or simply write a letter to the Greater Hilltop Community Development Corporation, stating the accomplishments of the individual. This letter should include any activities that reflect the nominee's community spirit. The nominee must reside on the West Side, exceptions can be made for those who's good works are on the Hilltop.


10th Anniversary : The year 2000 was the 10th Anniversary of the WOC Awards program that the GHCDC co-sponsors with the WestSide Messenger newspaper. Over these past ten years, scores of women have been nominated by the community and 33 have been selected for their outstanding contributions to their families, churches and the community.

Diane Wendel Baker co-founder and secretary of the Friends of the Hilltop, which is active in beautification. She is a trustee with the Hilltop Historical Society and the greater Hilltop Area League for the Arts and serves at the editor of the GHALA's "Pinnacle"; Diane is also a member of the Hilltop 1 and II CRA Resident Council and the Westwood Heights Block watch.

Stacy Berndsen for 18 years taught the community to dance as the owner of the  Hilltop Dance Studio. She has been a volunteer choreographer for the Hilltop Community Theater, Bishop Ready High School and Wellington School musical productions. She is active at Concordia Lutheran Church as a choir member, a lector and Bible Scholl teacher. For many years Stacy helped coordinate the Fashion Show for the Women of Character Awards.

Annette Jefferson is employed as the director of Development at the J Ashburn Jr. Youth Center. She is actively working on the new center, which is scheduled for completion in September 2001. Annette organized the Harris, Hague, and Powell Avenues Block watch. She has given many inspiring speeches to various Hilltop community Organizations encouraging people to follow there dreams.

Betty Reagan has been a Hilltopper since 1961. She is a member of St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister and takes communion to shut-ins. Betty was in charge of the Bishop Ready band uniforms for 12 years. She also helps make quilts for people in nursing homes and battered women shelters and assisted with "Take it to the Streets" and she is active in Irish Step Dancing.

The  Hilltop Women of Character 1999 Winners

Three Westside Columbus, Ohio women were chosen as the 1999 Women of Character. The annual event is sponsored by the Greater Hilltop Community Development Corporation and the Westside Messenger Newspaper. The finalist were: Betty Bricker, Evelyn Conley, Helen McDaniel, Ruth Manigoe, Jane Martin, Susan Parsons and Barbara Wood Salyers, all west side residents involved in school, church and community activities.

The featured speaker at the 1999 event was Kathryn Sullivan, President of COSI and former astronaut. She said referring to the nominees: "I'm terribly impressed by the accomplishments... All that any of us ever alone have, is the start of a good idea. Hard work is what turns dreams into concrete. That is the testimony to character."

In honoring the six finalists State Representative Priscilla Mead offered this recognition; "In all your endeavors, you have given generously of your time, energy and abilities to better the world around you."

The 1999 winners 

Barbara Wood Salyers, who has served as pastor of the Burgess Avenue United Methodist Church for the past 10 years. Through her efforts the church has sponsored a kid's Club and evening tutoring for children. She is currently serving as president of the Hilltop Ministerial Association. She has also participated in all of the Hilltop Community Theater productions and served on the Boy Scout Roundtable staff.

Helen McDaniel, chair of the Hilltop Senior Housing Committee and has guided that project to a success. An active member of the St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, she received the highest ever given to a lay-person, "Pro Ecclessia et Pontiff," by Pope John Paul.

Betty Bricker is know for her preservation of park land on the on the Hilltop. Big Run and Westgate Parks are among her most recent efforts. A supporter of the greater Hilltop Area Commission, she implemented the 90-gallon trash can pilot project in the Westgate. She was also at the center of efforts to save St. John Lutheran Church from demolition. Too ill to attend the awards ceremony she died weeks after this well deserved honor. The West Side will miss this diligent Woman of Character.



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