West Chester woman to be honored for being ‘volunteer extraordinaire’

Kerry Hendel’s enthusiasm for the community is contagious.

That’s why the West Chester Twp. woman was nominated as one of this year’s eight Women of Excellence and is scheduled to be honored with that group Nov. 18 at the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance’s annual Women of Excellence Awards Dinner & Gala at Cincinnati Marriott North at Union Centre.

Hendel works as a marketing and communications Specialist at CE Power in Cincinnati, but was nominated for the award for being a “volunteer extraordinaire.”

She served on the NEXT Emerging Leaders Steering Committee with the West Chester ▪ Liberty Chamber Alliance and is currently involved with the Union Centre Business Merchant Association, Key Event with the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, After Hours on the Square, Power of the Purse, Reach Out Lakota’s Celebrity Waiter Dinner, West Chester/Liberty Rotary and the Marvin Lewis Foundation.

“Volunteering is important to me because whether I’m spending a 15-hour day volunteering at the Union Centre Food Truck Rally, or just an hour teaching Junior Achievement to students, it warms my heart to know I am impacting others in a positive manner,” Hendel said. “That’s also why I will continue to do as much as I can for not only West Chester, but also the greater Cincinnati area.”

“Kerry is one that was passionate about NEXT Young Professionals and worked hard to engage other emerging leaders,” said Pam Gruber, director of marketing and public relations for the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance. “She was always open to being a mentor and sharing her experiences.”

As vice president of the Union Centre Boulevard Merchant Association, Hendel’s enthusiasm is contagious, according to Rebecca Wilber, the association’s president.

“We greatly appreciate all of her hard work and dedication to (UCBMA’s) annual Food Truck Rally,” Wilber said. “Kerry works diligently to select the food trucks that participate every year. We’re blessed to have her as a leader in our organization.”

From students and interns to community members, Hendel isn’t shy about taking people under her wing, according to her Women of Excellence nomination. When she was a teacher, she made her classroom a safe place and taught students “not to be afraid of who they are, and recognize that it is better to march to the beat of your own drum, even if people are watching.”

“Anyone who personally knows me knows that I am definitely not afraid to be me,” she said. “This is probably why my students would consistently say to me, ‘I’ve never had a teacher like you, but I mean that in a good way.’

Hendel said she did the typical “getting to know you” activities at the beginning of the year, but was also always “pretty open and honest” about her life, to a degree.

“This made my students think of me not as just a teacher, but as a real person, which, in turn, allowed them to feel safe talking to me,” she said. “I never thought a middle school student would want to eat lunch with me or hang out with me after school rather than their friends, but they did. It’s amazing to run into my former students now, some over 10 years later, and have them remember a story I told or a lesson plan I taught … and tell me that I was their favorite teacher.”

Being recognized as a Woman of Excellence is “crazy,” Hendel said, because she doesn’t give back looking for accolades.

“I’m just honored to be sharing this same title with my mother, Susan Hendel, who earned this award in 2010,” she said.