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Posted: 08/21/13

Karen Palka receives
new Rotary award

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Rotary Club is boosting an esteem-boosting program by honoring its creator.
       Karen Palka, founder and president of A Beautiful Me (ABMe) will be the inaugural recipient of the Romeo Rotary Club's Service Above Self award. She will receive the award today, Aug. 21, at the club's weekly meeting at the Apple Orchard Inn.
       Bill Creed, president of the Romeo Rotary Club, said the award takes its name from the Rotary Club's motto, "service above self." He said it is given to citizens who are serving the community for the benefit of the community, not for themselves.
       "They do things for the community that reflect an altruistic view," he said.
       In this case, the Rotary chose Palka for her work with ABMe, a non-profit organization she founded in 2008. The faith-based program focuses on bolstering esteem in young women.
       "It's just a wonderful program and certainly deserves support from our club, but also the citizenry of our community," Creed said. "She has devoted so much time and energy to this."
       Palka was humbled by the news of receiving the award, saying she is grateful for the attention the award can bring to the Washington Township-based organization.
       "It helps create awareness, and if we can help more girls with it that gives me a huge drive," she said.
       The main focus of the program is its four interactive workshops where girls ages 8-18 learn to value their self-image and boost their self-confidence. Palka said the first sessions had 75 girls, and this year has 1,500 signed up.
       ABMe has grown to include programs for women ages 18 and older as well as a retreat for mothers and daughters to attend together.
       She said for her, the best indicator of success is when young girls come back as teen mentors for ABMe, offering assistance and input on programs.
       "That was what we set it up to be, and now we're starting to see that success," she said.
       Palka has extended ABMe beyond local communities and into international territory, helping young women in Guatemala with esteem issues and obtaining necessities like clean water.
       She admitted she was surprised that she would be the first recipient of the Rotary award, saying there are many other local organizations and generous residents out there.
       "We're all equally doing good things, not one person better than another," she said. "There is so much positive out there that we don't report, not just the media but we as a community, and we need to let people know how many people are out there doing good things."
       The award shares the name of the Rotary International award given to Rotary members that demonstrate exemplary humanitarian service. Creed said the local award will be given on an annual or semi-annual basis.
       "We hope that other people who are doing similar things will continue on and we'll get a chance to recognize them," he said.
       For more information about ABMe, visit www.abme.us.


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