Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 8, 2014

Area women honored by mentoring program for roles in community

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A group of adolescent girls honoring local women Thursday at an inaugural recognition program experienced Girl Power in it’s purest form, as honorees discussed how to create a successful future.

“Find something you love and go at it with passion, and don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it. Ever,” said Janis Gowin.

Gowin, who serves as the science department head at Jacksonville High School, was one of five women recognized by In His Image Ministry, a mentoring program for adolescent girls, during the event held at Jacksonville Public Library.

Local physician Kristin Ault, who helped found Family First Clinic and Urgent Care in Jacksonville, encouraged girls to adopt a positive attitude as they pursued their goals.

“It’s amazing what a difference your attitude can make in your life,” Dr. Ault said. “It’s so easy to believe ‘I can’t do this, I’m not good enough to do this.’ You really have to change what you think, and (ask) ‘Why not?’ Really believe in yourself; have confidence, and if you can do that – even if it’s hard to do – you can do amazing things.”

Honorees Tonya Harris – a 20-year detective with the Jacksonville Police Department – and Jacksonville High School principal Tammy Jones reminded the girls to focus on their education.

“First thing – stay in school. You’ve got to get that education, because you can’t do very much without an education,” Harris said, reminding the young women “you can do anything you want to do, that you set your mind to do. You’ve got to press through it, say that’s what I want to be and do it.”

Her final piece of advice? “Stay out of my building,” she added, drawing laughter from those present.

“Stay out of her building and stay in mine,” Jones joked, before adding, “just remember, you are the one determining factor in your life – you make those decisions.”

Surround yourself with people who provide a positive influence and don’t hesitate to ask for help from those around you, because they are there to help, she said.

The women were selected for their commitment to the community, representing diverse fields predominantly represented by men, said Regina Brown, ministry co-founder.

Also, in recognizing their accomplishments, the girls could see how each woman holds an important role in the community.

“I want these girls to know this is their community – sometimes we feel that it’s somebody else’s problem, it’s not our problem. You know how (someone will suggest), ‘somebody needs to do that’ – we can do that ourselves (by showing them) while they’re in junior high or high school by connecting them with the community,” Brown said.

Launched this past August, the Scripture-based ministry includes community service as one of its teaching points.

Mayor Kenneth Melvin, on hand to read a proclamation from the city recognizing the women, said he was glad the event was launched, “because it lets these ladies know just how much we appreciate them.

“You hear a lot about the phrase, ‘You go, girl,’ and these ladies (have done just that), and we appreciate it very much,” he said, adding, “the good thing about y’all getting these awards is, you ain’t through yet. Go get’em, girls!”

A fifth honoree, Leisha R. Mosley, was not present at Thursday’s event.

Mosley is CEO of Leisha Enterprises, CEO of East Texas African American Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president of 5LINX Enterprises, Inc.