Women’s passion for helping is worth emulating

In our lives we meet all kinds of interesting people.

We meet them in happy and sad times, special occasions and tragedies. Some of those people we would like to forget, others make a lasting impression, and still others challenge us to become better versions of ourselves.

Recently, I met two women who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Although they have very different stories and motivations behind their endeavors, both are people we should aspire to be more like.

They are “warrior women”, as the young woman I met in Alaska would call them.

She says she’s been working on this nickname, following in the footsteps of her mother and “second mother” who are making things happen, especially to improve the lives of those around them.

At first glance, Shayla Silva, the woman from Alaska, seems to lead an enchanted life. She is a former Miss Alaska International, graceful, confident and has an exciting career with a fire department she loves.

Yet if you take the time to talk to her, you will learn that her past is filled with darkness and tragedy, including domestic abuse, which led her to contemplate suicide.

Somehow she learned to turn the tide, to seek the light in every situation, no matter how dark, and to use every platform possible to share her story, giving ” hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless”.

She explained: “Life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and you only get hurt if you go down in the middle.”

You can read more about Shayla in the article that begins on the front page of this issue.

The other, Amy Moore Peterson, was living a virtually perfect life with her husband, a commercial pilot, when they were diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease. In just over 10 years he had to stop flying and was dead.

Since then, she has embraced her “been there, done that” attitude and made it an opportunity to help others find the resources they need and to advocate for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

You can read about Amy later this month.

There are also many other female warriors here in town. They serve on the boards of non-profit and philanthropic organizations, raising funds and awareness for various causes such as promoting literacy and helping the homeless or providing scholarships so people can pursue their own passions.

They also serve on city commissions that work to help preserve historic properties, ensuring there are recreational opportunities for people of all ages, and organizing special events such as the upcoming 4th of July Damboree.

Some of those I have been fortunate enough to meet are Charm McElree, who volunteers with Operation Recognition to ensure that those who left high school early to serve in the armed forces receive their diplomas; Jill Rowland-Lagan, who promotes all good things in Boulder City through her work at the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce; Susan Johnson, who focused on those who often need help the most: the elderly and hospital patients; and Dyanah Musgrave, who works to create kits for those battling cancer based on her experiences and literally helps brighten up the holiday season by welcoming thousands to her home, affectionately nicknamed The Christmas House.

I too have volunteered hundreds of hours to help the communities I have called home and hope my efforts have earned me ‘woman warrior’ status, although I admit that my shield has gotten a little dusty lately and needs a bit of a shine. But I have no doubt that a cause or an event will soon cross my path and I will once again fight for the good of others.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at [email protected] or 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.