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Jefferson Award Winner: Charlene Hamilton

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Viola, Wis. (WXOW)-  There are stories we read, and then there are stories we’re told. Often times by adults. About who we’ll grow up to be. “Way back then, I did the aptitude test that they gave everybody,” recalled Charlene Hamilton. “And my counselor says, ‘Too bad you’re a girl, your aptitude is to be a mechanic.'”

Of course, Charlene Hamilton knows now, that she can write her own story. And it’s something she wants to make sure the next generation hears. “The sense that they could do anything they wanted to do. Girls you know, as opposed to boys,” she said.

37 years ago Charlene began the Girl Scouts program in Viola, a program she still runs today. It means that for more than three decades, young girls have heard a story of empowerment, from Charlene.

In between troop meetings, this tireless volunteer can often be found in the library at Kickapoo Elementary. “I call her my lifesaver, I don’t know if she knows that,” laughed Jennifer Malphy the librarian at the school. “But, she really is, because shelving books is a full-time job in a school and she comes in every single day.”

But if you can’t spot Charlene in the stacks you’ll likely find her tutoring a student helping young boys and girls sharpen the tools that they will use, to write their own futures.

“She’s just always been dedicated to Kickapoo and dedicated to the kids of Kickapoo,” added Kim Johnson, the elementary school principal. “She’s a treasure and I don’t think you find many people who are that dedicated. Coming in every single day and working for a ‘thank you.'”

The teacher who nominated her for a Jefferson Award, Tracy Solverson, says without fanfare Charlene does what she does for the good of the students, the school, and the community. She makes a difference and is the definition of an unsung community hero. We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Charlene!

Andrea Albers

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