Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Making a difference? They did

School honors six alumnae

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — The all-girls Park Hills' Notre Dame Academy will honor six alumnae who have made significant contributions with its first Women Making a Difference luncheon Feb. 7.

[photo] Honoree Judi Gerding of The Point/ARC, a Covington nonprofit, stands outside the agency's restaurant.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        The honorees include an executive director of a nonprofit and a nurse who traveled the world aiding the sick before her death last year.

        The living honorees have been invited to speak at the public event. Proceeds will benefit the school's tuition assistance program, which gives out $120,000 annually, according to Sister Mary Rita Geoppinger, the school's principal.

        Nominations for the award were solicited in the August Notre Damian, the academy's alumni newsletter.

        “It's so impressive to see the wide range of activities that our women have been involved in,” Sister Geoppinger said.

        Notre Dame, which has an enrollment of 587, encourages community outreach under its campus ministries program. School leaders said that Women Making a Difference, which will become an annual event, is another way to underscore the importance of serving the community.

        “Notre Dame taught me a lot more than I think other schools could, not only through books but through religion,” said honoree Lisa Cooney, WLWT (Channel 5) news anchor and a lifelong Kenton County resident.

        “It helped me grow into a Catholic woman, parent, wife. It taught me what it means to be a good person.”

        Ms. Cooney is a 1982 graduate of the school. She was nominated by her sister, Jena Meehan, and has worked with numerous Northern Kentucky nonprofit agencies. In November, she testified before the Ohio House in an effort to pass the Donor Leave Act, after donating one of her kidneys to a friend last year.

        Honoree Judi Webster Gerding became a founding board member of The Point/ARC, a Covington nonprofit organization that aids people with developmental disabilities, in 1972 after her second child was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. The disease is a rare disorder that can affect body organs.

        Now the executive director for The Point, she encourages people to make a difference.

        “Get involved in giving back,” the 61-year-old Ms. Gerding said. “There are so many subtle things that happen to direct you. Be alert and look for signs to tell you which direction to go. If you look, they are there.”

        Honoree Trinett Foote died in September after fighting breast cancer. Ms. Foote was a registered nurse who traveled the world helping others with the American Red Cross.


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