March is Women’s History Month and Assemblyman Al Stirpe held his 10th annual Women of Distinction Awards on Saturday at Stone’s Lakeside Restaurant, a women-owned business run by April Stone.

Seven women were honored in the 127th district in various categories including business, education and volunteerism.

“When I look around and I see everyone else has received this award, I feel empowered but I also feel humble,” education recipient Kasey Dolson said. “In the sense that I look and see what everyone else has done. And it inspires me to do better and to do more in our school community and for our students."

Dolson is the executive director for curriculum for math, science and technology at the Liverpool Central School District. She says she loves being a woman in stem education and says she hopes to inspire other young girls.

“I love it when we have young, female students who attend these events and take part of these events,” Dolson said. “I try to make a nice little connection with them.” 

And when it comes to childcare, Lori Schakow says it’s the backbone of our society. Her work to push for adequate and sustainable childcare put her on the list of the 2022 winners for the business award.

“Although I am receiving the award today, I am really here on behalf of the thousands of childcare providers, mostly women, mostly women of color that have stuck through throughout the pandemic providing high-quality childcare for other essential workers so that they oiled go to work and know that their children were in a safe, high-quality learning environment,” business recipient Lori Schakow said.

Schakow is the executive director for childcare solutions in Syracuse. The non-profit organization and referral regency helps parents find high-quality childcare providers.

“We want to make sure they’re proving early literacy, early stem foundation and helping grow those children so that when they hit school, those children are ready to learn,” Schakow said.

A new award was added to the list this year, the COVID Hero Award.

“I had no idea what idea what going on, so I feel very honored,” COVID Hero Award recipient Anju Varshney said.

Varshney is a former stem teacher in the Syracuse City School District. She also worked with at-risk youth to help guide them to better paths in life. She has been battling with a brain tumor, but it hasn’t stopped her from knitting caps and for newborn babies at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, which she started in 2016.

“I wanted to give back to the community where I belong,” Varshney said.