Nicola Valley Women in Action is celebrating International Women’s Day by hosting the 8th Annual Celebrate Women, an event that aims to recognize the achievement of local females.

The event is scheduled for today (Thursday) at the Merritt Civic Centre from 6 to 8 p.m.

Shelley Cressy-Hassel, ASK Wellness Program director, was slated to speak, but she is in Vancouver to tend to an emergency. Instead, Mary Ramsey will read her speech.

Cressy-Hassel was honoured last year for several contributions to the community, including her participation in the Nicola Valley Recycling Society, which lobbied the City of Merritt to initiate a recycling program. The city is now slated to receive a curbside program next spring.

“I was part of a group of women recycling in Merritt before there was any recycling here,” she said.

She was also recognized for her work helping homeless people in Merritt by bringing the number of people without homes to the attention of stakeholders who could fund resources for the homeless.

“I have one hand to help myself and the other to help others,” she said.

Five women from the community will be honoured and everyone is welcome to attend.

Shannon Daw, secretary treasurer for the NVWA and organizer for the event, said most of the women are recognized for contributing to the community in a dynamic manner by making a positive difference in a person’s life.

“One of the ladies that we’ve honoured over the years has contributed to the hockey team here for years and years and years,” she said. “She’s had hockey players stay with her and she has been a part of the [Merritt Centennials] Booster Club.”

NVWA started in 1991 after an assessment of the Nicola Valley revealed several women’s issues that weren’t addressed. These included domestic violence, sexual assault, victim assistance and child abuse.

The organization also discovered that there was a lack of awareness about the problems.

Responding to a needs assessment, several community members joined to address a need for counselling services. The group then formed a non-profit society and applied for a grant to start the Family Centre, which opened in 1992.

NVWA is made up of volunteers who are worried about women’s living condition and well as family situations. The group seeks to initiate measures that improve conditions for these people, whether it’s health, economic, emotional or physical. The group facilitates public education and other services.