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Celebrating Gary’s outstanding women

6 outstanding women of Gary get the nod for Women's History Month

Contributed By: The 411 News

In the areas of education, public safety, community service, faith-based service, small business, and sports

Outside of their respective fields, the women honored in Gary’s inaugural Ladies First celebration don’t usually make the spotlight.

For Women’s History Month, Gary’s First Lady Crystal G. Melton and Mayor Eddie Melton selected 6 women in the areas of education, public safety, community service, faith-based service, small business, and sports.

“We are also here to celebrate all women,” Crystal Melton said to the audience of nearly 300 who gathered Monday afternoon at Marquette Park Pavilion. “Women are the backbone of our community. We have the passion, the love, the commitment, the grace of God to endure all obstacles.”

“And, we are here to network, collaborate and support women. When we come together and on one accord, there is nothing we can’t do,” Melton said.

Introduced by the people who knew them best, Pastor Eric Boone of Tree of Life Church in Gary and Hammond said his wife Tereka “made him the man he is today.“

The faith-based service award went to Tereka Boone, the Education Program Director for the Foundations of East Chicago. She assists high school students and adults with scholarship search, and awards thousands of dollars annually to the city’s residents. Boone is in the midst of starting a foundation for the cure of Sickle Cell Anemia, the disease afflicting her oldest son.

Elsie Goldberg, the small business awardee, was introduced by Sue Rutsen. “Among my favorite memories is the free pizzas she gives to the Cleanslate crew who come to Miller every month to clean our streets.”

Goldberg continues to operate Miller Pizza, following the passing of her husband Gary Goldberg, in 2021.

Goldberg is the owner of a second business, Seventy-One Contracting, that hauls scrap metal for the General Motors Plant in Marion, IN. Goldberg said she gained in-depth knowledge about the trucking and scrap metal industry early in her career when she worked for Jack Gray Transport in Gary.

“We have supported many places in the community. As this community has supported us, it is integral to return that support with gratitude,” Goldberg said.

Gary Police Department Chief Derrick Cannon introduced Lieutenant Sarita Titus, the public safety awardee. “Sarita has a little bit more time with the agency than me, so she’s the person I sought out when I came on. I think about the content of her character. I think about the things she has been through in our agency. We are lucky to have her as a team member.”

Titus is in her 27th year of service at the GPD. She has worked in every division of the department, from patrol officer to commander. Titus is the department’s Network and Information Systems Administrator.

Titus volunteers with Holistic Evolution, a nonprofit with a mission to encourage young men of color in Northwest Indiana between the ages of 16 and 24, by supporting mentorship and health equity. “As the mother of 3 sons, I’ve seen firsthand how quickly they can be consumed by their surroundings,” she said.

Dorothy Hardy, secretary to GlenEva Dunham did the introduction for the education award. “When she goes out of town, she has got to get home on Sunday morning to teach her Sunday school class,” Hardy said.

GlenEva Dunham has worked in the Gary Community School Corporation for 45 years, first as a kindergarten teacher and now as president of the Gary Teachers Union Local 4. Dunham is also state president of the American Federation of Teachers, with over 4,000 members and 24 Locals throughout Indiana.

Dunham is a board member of the Gary Educational Development Foundation and is proud of the work it does for the students and staff of the GCSC.

Marcella Gregory introduced Penelope Love, the community service awardee who couldn’t be present for the ceremony. “Penelope can be our model. She organized her block, then the next block. Now she has spread it to the whole Aetna community,” Gregory said. “And if you know Penny, you know she will put you to work.”

Love is the Disaster Program Manager for the American Red Cross and President of the Aetna Manor Revitalization Program, the nonprofit she founded to improve the appearance and enhance the safety of Aetna.

Love founded the “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” initiative more than 10 years ago, installing smoke detectors in homes throughout the Aetna community.

“Weighing in at 138lbs from Gary, Indiana,” George Rogge acted the boxing ring announcer to introduce the sports award for ‘Merciless’ Mary McGee. Rogge mentored the high school cheerleader turned amateur boxer on her path to hold the IBF Female Light Welterweight professional title.

Of all the honorees, the spotlight has been on Mary McGee in boxing rings all over the world. She still calls Gary her home. When not training at the Hammond Boxing Club, she finds time to visit schools, churches, and community events to connect with youth.

First Lady Melton had another message for the audience, “Volunteer. Find a cause and be part of moving our city forward.”

Ladies First awardees, (l-r), Tereka Boone and Elsie Goldberg, Crystal Melton, awardees GlenEva Dunham and Mary McGee, and Gary Mayor Eddie Melton

Gary Chief of Police Derrick Cannon, (l-r), Lt. Sarita Titus, Crystal Melton, and Mayor Eddie Melton

Story Posted:03/28/2024

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