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Eight women from all walks of life have journeyed to become the 35th annual winners of the Women Making History awards
Women Making History

Rhonda Hart Lifetime Achievement Award winner (Photo by Vanessa Espinoza/Daily Miner)

Rhonda Hart Lifetime Achievement Award winner (Photo by Vanessa Espinoza/Daily Miner)

People rarely know they are making history as it happens. It’s especially strange when they are just doing what they love and what they are passionate about.

Eight women, from all walks of life, have received the 35th annual Women Making History award.

This group of outstanding women will receive their awards at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, 400 W. Beale St. This event is held in conjunction with National Women’s History Month, which focuses on the rich and inspiring heritage of women’s contributions.

Claire Crum, Cynthia DeFrancisco, Maggie Pozenel, Mollie Casson, Rhonda Hart, Terri Chavez, Karen Furr and Judy Lent are this year’s recipients.

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Maggie Pozenel

Maggie Pozenal, Business

She is beauty, she is grace, and Maggie Pozenel does it all with a smile on her face.

Pozenel, owner of Heaven’s Scent Florist, always practices the motto of giving back to the community. She has owned Heaven’s Scent for over 10 years, which was a retirement present from her husband.

“My husband bought me flowers when I was at work, and then when I retired he bought me a flower shop,” Pozenel said. “I couldn’t think of a better retirement from my profession.”

Pozenel said she is “incredibly honored” to have received the business award, and to stand among the “quality of professional women in this community.”

“I am in awe of those women, and to be among them makes me speechless,” Pozenel said. “I am in awe to even be considered.”

Pozenel stresses the importance of giving back to her community. All employees and staff are encouraged to share their time and talents, to give back.

“As much passion as anyone may have, compassion for your community is No. 1,” Pozenel said. “In business, that translates to customer service.”

Pozenel, a three time cancer survivor, has also been very active in the cancer associations and Relay for Life.

“I believe the honor of the award comes not from the last 10 years, but from the accomplishment of my life,” Pozenel said. “Through adversity and obstacles, through the will of God and with the will of God.

“I hope people remember that I did everything in my style, my grace and with a smile on my face.”

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Mollie Casson

Mollie Casson, Education

No matter how many years she’s been an educator, Mollie Casson believes she can always keep learning.

Casson began her education career teaching second graders at Kingman Elementary School. She later became a school counselor before reaching the capstone of her career: when she was chosen to administer the school psychology and counseling programming for the district.

“I am excited, it really is an honor to receive this award,” Casson said. “Knowing the women who have received it before, it is such an honor to feel a part of that line. People do value education, and someone has valued my contribution to it.”

Casson was nominated by Mary Reddick, last year’s recipient, whom she has know since the late 1970s.

“The fact that it was Mary who nominated me – I respect and admire her so much,” Casson said. “It just increases the value beyond reckoning.”

Casson not only worked as an educator, but she also worked for the Mohave Mental Health Clinic for a while, as well as in higher education. She credits her teachers and colleagues that inspired her for the influence they had on her career.

As a teacher, Casson is an excellent role model.

“Keep learning,” Casson advised. “If you think you know it all, you’ll never be a very good educator. Learn from your students.

“Looking back, I’m really glad I chose education.”

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Karen Furr

Rev. Karen Furr, Religion

Karen Furr has always been spiritual, and her path through life only highlights that.

Furr, a Catholic priest at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Community, has had forays into the Methodist Church, Tibetan Buddhism and the Pentecostal Movement, which led her to the Catholic Church, and becoming a Fanciscan sister for 26 years.

“I don’t deny I’ve had an incredible life,” Furr said. “I’ve never been recognized for it before.”

However, Furr said it has never been about the recognition, and she is truly humbled to be receiving it.

“I really appreciate the award,” Furr said.

On a grander scale, Furr said that the community and City is behind these awards makes her proud to be a resident of the area.

“When one receives, we all receive,” Furr said. “We’re building up the community.”

And that, Furr said, is incredible.

Furr’s focus on spirituality lies in her belief in a God of Love and the belief that each person is endowed with that divinity. Therefore, her parish is open to anyone who wants to participate. They are accepted and included, no matter their professed religion.

Underlying all of Furr’s ministry and her person is a deep desire for peace and nonviolence among all cultures, races, sentient beings, and Mother Earth, which is also her loving God’s desire.

Furr’s advice for young women, and young people in general: don’t be afraid.

“Don’t be afraid of elders keeping you in a paradigm,” Furr said. “Explore who you are … there is amazing courage in stepping out.”

She also says not to discount “the old folks.”

“We opened the windows and doors in the ‘60s,” Furr said with a smile. “Honor those holding space for you to grow, and don’t worry about the rest.”

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Cynthia DeFrancisco

Cynthia DeFrancisco, Arts

To say her life is a dance wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration for Cynthia DeFrancisco. Ever since she was a child, she has been a dancer.

“I’m being awarded for something I love to do,” DeFrancisco said. “Dance is life for me. It is a passion. Something I want to perform.”

DeFrancisco didn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t be a dancer. Not even a doctor who told her after a nearly-fatal car accident she might not be able to walk again, let alone dance.

But she did both.

“If you want to do something, don’t tell yourself you can’t,” DeFrancisco said. “Try it. Have fun. Don’t let inhibitions hold you back.”

DeFrancisco, known as Masala, practices the art of belly dancing.

“It is the dance of countries,” she said. “Egypt, Turkey, India. It’s not sexual, it’s sensual.”

DeFrancisco has danced her entire life and has been all over the country, and toured with a Parisian dance troupe.

She began a Middle Eastern Dance class at Mohave Community College in 1989 and continues teaching dancing.

“I want to promote it and teach it,” DeFrancisco said. “It’s self-expression. I love getting lost to the music and just dancing.”

To describe her life as anything less than a dance would do her no justice.

“It was such a wonderful privilege and honor to be nominated,” DeFrancisco said. “This is a group of wonderful women. I know many of them. It’s amazing to be a part of it, to have someone think what I do is just as amazing. I am honored to join such a group.”

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Claire Crum

Claire Crum, Health Professions

Since she was 8-years-old, Claire Crum knew she was going to be a nurse.

In June, this will be her 50th year.

“I love what I do, and do what I love,” Crum said. “It’s incredibly humbling and overwhelming, just to be nominated.”

She credits her decision to be a nurse to Dr. Huston from her childhood home in Philadelphia. As a child, she would be the first to answer the door, to talk to the doctor while he was making housecalls, to help him with anything he needed.

And when he asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, she would answer immediately.

Nurse.

Crum received the call that she had won the award while volunteering at her church. She said she just started crying.

“That someone would think to recognize me must mean I’ve succeeded in my vocation,” Crum said with a laugh. “It’s certainly a gratifying feeling. It’s just pretty overwhelming.”

Crum retired from Kingman Regional Medical Center’s Cath lab in 2014, but her heart was still that of a nurse. In 2017, she returned to work part time and she continues to work part time, helping each of her patients feel special.

“Take things one at a time,” she advised young nurses. “Find a wonderful mentor to be objective and guide you. Bear with what you have to deal with. Always be on your game, but never be discouraged.”

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Rhonda Hart

Rhonda Hart, Lifetime Achievement

A list would have to be a mile long in order to count the ways Rhonda Hart has impacted the community. Her life has been based around serving the community. A community that she loves with her entire being.

“I am so overwhelmed,” Hart said. “I knew nothing about this award. I am humbled. I am grateful. I am most appreciative. I was so shocked. Why me?”

It probably has to do with the lifetime she has devoted to helping others.

It started when she was a little girl, trying to raise money to help her grandmother, who had cancer. She went door to door, collecting money for programs that helped with cancer treatments and the milk fund. She won, having collected the most money, but that was never her purpose. Her purpose was always to help her grandmother.

“Grandma was the one who raised me,” Hart said. “I love her to the moon and back and so much more.”

That helpful mentality has carried Hart through her entire life.

“I do it because I love it,” Hart said. “I am a very service-minded person. If you help the community, we all grow.”

Her only advice to young women is “just don’t be afraid.” Be a little better each day. You can do whatever you want to do.

“Be what you can be,” Hart said. “My motto is ‘If it can be, it’s up to me.’ So go for it and don’t be afraid.”

Her service to the community, a lifetime achievement, could never fit onto paper.

“This award means that I have given my life to my community, to my family, and I have succeeded,” Hart said. “Kingman has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am just so grateful. I couldn’t be the person I am today without Kingman, Arizona.”

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Judy Lent

Judy Lent, Volunteerism

Judy Lent has always volunteered for things. That has led her to 29 years as a volunteer 4-H leader.

“It’s important to share your skills and knowledge with others,” Lent said. “It’s important to take time to give back to others.”

Lent started volunteering with 4-H when her children expressed interest in it. It was something she could do with all three, two boys and one girl, without anyone being left out.

And now, her grandchildren are in 4-H.

“It’s an honor,” Lent said of receiving the volunteerism award. “It’s just an honor to be included.”

She encourages everyone to volunteer.

“It’s very fulfilling to volunteer,” Lent said. “Find something you care about, find the time to work with it. You always have time.

“You may not see the award of volunteering at first, but in the long run you will. It’s very rewarding giving of yourself and your time for your community.”

When asked how long she plans to continue as a volunteer for 4-H, Lent laughs and replies: “Indefinitely.”

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Terri Chavez

Terri Chavez, Pioneering

When she was told she received the Pioneering award, Terri Chavez’s first thought was “I’m not old enough for that.”

Her second though was, “Oh yeah, I am kind of a pioneer.”

Chavez, born and raised Kingmanite, is honored and grateful to be awarded. Her grandparents first moved here in 1937, and her grandmother received one of the first Women Making History awards in 1984.

“I am still kind of numb,” Chavez said with a laugh. “I was surprised and very thankful.”

She is grateful to her family, present and past, who have helped make Kingman the place it is today. Her grandfather owned Hafley’s supermarket in downtown Kingman, and helped bring Safeway to Kingman in 1955. Her grandmother was a charter member of the Soroptomist International group.

Both her husband and Chavez were born and raised here. Her children all were raised here and graduated from high school here, and she currently has two grandchildren living here with twins due in July.

Five generations of Chavez’s family have lived in Kingman.

“It brings happy tears, to see how Kingman has changed,” Chavez said. “I am fortunate to live in Kingman and for having raised my kids here. We still have that close-knit community. I just feel fortunate.”

All photos by Claire Whitley & Vanessa Espinoza

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