We all know amazing women throughout the Mahoning Valley who have left an impact through their line of work. One local group is making sure outstanding women don't go unnoticed for their efforts in making the Valley a better place. The 'Gems of the Valley' is an event that returned this year to honor the best of the best in the area.

"We get to honor a lot of women who don't get the recognition that they deserve and they're really the unsung heros," explained Jana Coffin with Fund for Women & Girls. 

Five outstanding women were honored with the 'Gem of the Valley' award by the Fund for Women & Girls, a community-led fund at the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

Out of dozens of candidates submitted, the fund's committee chose their top 5 candidates. Honorees were nominated by someone close to them for always going that extra mile. For the first time, the Fund for Women & Girls accepted nominations from the community as they seek wider input on who to recognize as a Gem of the Valley.

"After the success of our Microfunding Event earlier this summer, we knew it was important to bring back Gems of the Valley," Coffin added. "This event is our way of putting the spotlight on the work of incredible women to make the Mahoning Valley a better place."

The 2023 'Gems of the Valley' included Meghan DeGregory with Thrive 1010, Dee Traylor with Mercy Health, Jennifer Evans with YNDC, Allison Smith with Outreach Quilt and Artists Guild, and Daphne Carr on behalf of Lynn Anderson with Sustainable Youngstown. 

Dee Traylor works with expecting mothers in need through Mercy Health.

"To mentor and support these women and let them know their present situation does not determine what their future is going to be and let them see it in person," she explained to 21 News. 

Thrive 1010's Meghan DeGregory works to uplift local women and families through assistance programs.

"I love to learn where the gaps are in the system and where the need is and try to find a creative way to fill that," she said. 

"We provide tie blankets," explained Allison Smith with Outreach Quilt and Artists Guild. "We did over 150 blankets for women and children in foster care. I was surprised when I found out I received the award. "I'm like, what? for what? I'm just doing me and I thank God that he gives me those visions."

"With so many great things happening across the region, we wanted to put the spotlight on the women whose work is often unsung. Gems of the Valley is an opportunity to do just that and offer all attending the chance to make connections that support those efforts," said Sharon Stringer, Guiding Circle member and a psychological sciences and counseling professor at Youngstown State University,

An evening of inspiration, encouraging the Gems of the Valley to keep making the Mahoning Valley a better place.

"It's showing people that when you give back to your community, it's recognized," Coffin added. "That's just very, very valuable. We're happy to be able to grow the Fund for Women & Girls into a lasting resource for the community."

As a community-led fund, each shareholder in the Fund for Women & Girls has a say in how grants from the fund are awarded.

For more information on the Fund for Women & Girls or to learn how to become a shareholder, visit CFMV.org/fund-for-women-girls.