YWCA Awards Gala

The YWCA Saint John hosted their 3rd annual Women of Distinction Awards Gala on May 25th. What an honour it was to be in the presence of so many remarkable women. Women from various backgrounds, ages & expertise all contributing their talents to better our community.


The evening began with delicious appetizers, courtesy of Thandi Restaurant, and an opportunity to mingle and become acquainted with each of these amazing women. I must say, there is something powerful about a room full of women uplifting one another.

There have been many moments in my life personally where I have fallen victim to the comparison game, where I have compared my life, accomplishments, successes to that of those women around me. This could not have been further from the atmosphere of the awards Gala. How incredible to have so many gifts and talents in one room and so much empowerment of women.

After photos had been taken and our plates had been cleaned of all things delectable, everyone made their way to the seating area in the beautiful Marco Polo Cruise Terminal. Here is where the fun began, with two incredible student performances given by amazing young women attending the Interaction School of Performing Arts.

Thus began the official honouring of this years Women of Distinction. Each speech providing encouragement, empowerment and highlighting exactly why these women received the 2017 award. Did I forget to mention the humour? Because these women sure knew how to get a crowd laughing. If I remember correctly, I’m certain vodka was referenced at one point. I mean these women knew just how to except an award! In all seriousness, each of these women left their mark on the audience that evening, as they shared their stories of how they came to where they are today.

I find as women it is easy for us to fall into the trap of downplaying our accomplishments. But that night there was a humbled sense of achievement as each woman received a much deserved standing ovation for the impact they are making in this community.


Sharon Gainforth our Director at Stepping Stones Centre gave an incredible speech attributing many women but principally her mother for modeling unconditional love and perseverance which enabled Sharon to push forth through every trial and tribulation to become the woman of distinction she is today.

Sharon spoke of her passion for children, teens & adults with autism, the transformations she has seen over the years and her amazing staff who have contributed daily to the lives of these kids with autism. Sharon recounts the initial days of starting as a Speech Language Pathologist and her first experience with a child with autism. She truly found her passion and gifting. She says,

“A Passion for children with autism had been ignited. I cannot even describe to you, when you are working with a little guy or girl with autism and they don’t interact with you… and finally you break through and they look at you and you truly connect with them… I cannot tell you the feeling inside, how awesome it is… This passion that started 37yrs ago has not dimmed.”

We are so incredibly blessed by Sharon’s advocacy and passion for autism. She has touched many lives and it is evident that she is one remarkable women of distinction. A huge thank you to the YWCA- Saint John for hosting this incredible event to honour some of the amazing women in our community! Also huge thank you to all the sponsors that made this day possible:

How incredible to have sat amongst so many leaders and to have left that night feeling so empowered by each one of these amazing women. It was simply… Incredible.

To find out more about Sharon and the programs she has created for children with autism click below: