Y at VT rewards three international women | faith and values
The YMCA of Virginia Tech celebrated International Women’s Day, which falls in March each year, by recognizing three members of the international women’s community. All three women were recognized for demonstrating a spirit of perseverance, making an impact in their community and setting an example of service in the New River Valley.
Ms. Aphi Fancon was born and raised in India. She pursued a career in city planning when she and her family moved to Florida in 2002. Fancon earned her graduate degree from the University of Florida. In 2015 she moved to Blacksburg. She currently works as the Director of Community Development at the New River Valley Regional Commission. She enjoys volunteering in the community and making new friends. Her volunteer work has included helping with several programs such as Meals on Main and Welcoming Week with the YMCA, Renew the New, and food drives for Feeding Southwest Virginia and Radford Head Start.
One of the YMCA’s long-time volunteers, Ms. Manju Batra, is an active member of the international community. Batra grew up in India in an extended family and learned from an early age to be a helper in her neighborhood, just like her mother. She came to the United States in 1972 after getting married. Before coming to Virginia, she lived in Missouri where she was very involved in her children’s schools and volunteered at BW Robinson State School for Children with Disabilities. She joined the YMCA in VT when the family moved to Blacksburg in 1994. Batra is a people connector. She enjoys welcoming newcomers and helping them build friendships with other members of the community. It gives her a sense of fulfillment to help international newcomers settle in, as she once was in their shoes and remembers how difficult it was to find her way when moving to a new country.
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Faced with adversity, Ms. Réjane Pratelli discovered her strength and a new path in the field of the arts. Born in France, she obtained a doctorate. in plant biology and continued his research in various countries. Arrived in the United States in 2007, she moved to Blacksburg in 2009. In 2013, an aneurysm deprived her of speech and the use of fingers for several months and put an end to her university career. She turned to art for healing and grounding. An introductory sterling silver jewelry workshop at Blair Anderson’s studio near Washington, DC, sparked a deep love and respect for the metal, and provided her with the outlet she needed. It took a few years of practice to fully regain the use of his fingers and develop his skills and confidence. It was at the YMCA’s annual craft fair that she was pleasantly surprised to find that her art was well received. She finally felt ready to take the plunge and launched her jewelry business, Anvil, Fire & Time, in 2018. Since then, her work has focused on exploring textures, using them to reflect the complexity of the human psyche and fight the pressure. society imposes us on all of us, but especially on women. Since then, Pratelli has helped the Y plan and organize the annual craft fair.
The YMCA of VT also took the opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month with an open house and presentation on the life and accomplishments of Lucy Lee Lancaster, who was one of the first five students at Virginia Tech (1925). She led an active life leading many organizations while working as a librarian and traveling to 52 countries. Lucy Lee was a board member of the YMCA in VT for many years and before her death bequeathed her home to the organization.
– Submitted by Laureen Blakemore