by Joyce Kyles, Special to The New Tri-State Defender
The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis recently honored three Memphians who have made it their mission to be a positive force in the city, whether it’s working with children or other women in Memphis.
The Rev. Sonia Louden Walker, Fredrika “Freddi” Felt and Anita S. Vaughn were all recognized April 12 at the Legends Awards held at The Columns.
“It is very important to me that children be loved, fed well, listened to and respected,” said Walker, the Catalyst Award honoree and a lifelong advocate for ending hunger in the community and making sure the voices of children are heard. Walker was given the Catalyst Award for showing selfless dedication to creating positive change in the community.
The associate pastor of First Congregational Church spoke candidly about her battle with cancer last year, saying faith, family and friends were of great support to her. Of the award, she said, “This is a lovely acknowledgement of a gift that other people have fostered and endured. To be honored by the Women’s Foundation in this way is very humbling.”
Each honoree was assigned an artist and writer that would sit at the feet, if you will, of these amazing women, to learn from them and capture their legacies in the form of written and visual art. The unveiling of the artwork and prose was the highlight of the reception, both in appearance and presentation.
For Felt, the Philanthropy and Leadership Award honoree, philanthropy is just a way of life for her and her family. She is the current chair of the Lichterman Lowenburg Foundation, an organization that strives daily to do its part to make Memphis a better place.
Felt’s award honors her for demonstrating leadership through community service including civic, cultural and economic engagement.
“We’ve given to a number of causes and tried to pass this on to our children as well,” Felt said. “I’m big on Memphis and blessed to be able to give back and help the community.”
Vaughn, this year’s Innovation Award honoree, was an integral part of creating what is now the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, one of the most unique facilities of its kind in the country.
“It was the greatest experience in my professional career,” said Vaughn, whose award honors her for being a role model with significant impact on advancing not only her own institutional interests, but also the broader interests of the community. Her passion for women and children’s health and well-being began at an early age, as this agent of change continues to look from the lens of how to make the quality of life better for the underserved and uninsured.
Created in 2009, the Legends Awards has 69 honorees to date. Mary McDaniel, board chair for WFGM, shared the goals and mission of the foundation which works to help lift women and children out of poverty. “The Legends Awards not only lifts up women in leadership in Memphis, but serves as an opportunity to also the spotlight women and their accomplishments,” she said.