The Fortuna River Lodge was decorated in sunflowers to celebrate this year’s theme of the annual National Business Women’s luncheon, hosted by the Fortuna Kiwanis Club.
Second District Humboldt County Supervisor and board President Estelle Fennell was honored as the 2015 Fortuna Kiwanis Woman of Distinction at the annual luncheon, which took place on Oct. 21.
Fennell said she was unprepared when her name was announced.
“I am totally surprised,” she said, “so much so that I am speechless. I am extremely honored, and humbled. I have not ever been as honored as I am this day.”
Fennell was introduced by Fortuna Kiwanis Member Becky Giacomini, who said, “She is not a native Humboldter, but has traveled the world to finally find her way to the North Coast 32 years ago.” Fennell has made her home in the southern part of Humboldt County since she arrived.
She was news director at KMUD Radio for more than 17 years, which helped her develop an understanding of issues that affected and concerned the southern Humboldt community and the county as a whole.
Fennell has put in many hours with many boards and projects to help rural communities in southern Humboldt and the 2nd District.
“She believes in community service and the power of teamwork and collaborative efforts,” Giacomini said of Fennell. “She has served on the Briceland Fire Department Board of Directors and spearheaded the very successful creation of the Briceland Fire District to protect this rural area. Our honoree has earned the community trust and respect through her hard work, dependability, integrity, and honesty. She truly supports our local community because she cares.”
Fennell told those gathered at the luncheon, “The city of Fortuna, the Eel River Valley, and Humboldt county means so much to me, and I love you all for (this honor).”
Named as 2015 Family of the Year were Joe, D’anna, Jordyn and Joey Quen. Each member of the family was presented a sunflower and each petal represented an activity or program in which each are and have participated.
Joe Quen has coached youth football in the Eel River Valley, Eureka, and Crescent City. He is also a referee of Eel River Valley Youth and High School football. He has been a softball coach, a baseball coach, umpire Chief for Eel River Valley Little League and Vice President of Eel River Valley Little League in 2014-2015.
He has also coached Fortuna Middle School’s 5th grade girls basketball team, and both boys and girls 3rd and 4th grade basketball teams.
“(Joe) works at Caltrans helping keep our roadways safe for us,” Fortuna Kiwanis member Sally Conley said. “As you can see, Joe has enriched many lives and stands tall as the sunflower he holds,” she added.
D’anna Quen has served on the Fortuna Middle School Site Council for the past three years, has served as treasurer of the PTA at Fortuna’s South School and Middle School, was instrumental in getting the track and playgrounds at the schools, and has worked on the school carnivals for the past eight years.
She is involved in the Eel River Valley Youth Soccer League, serving as Division III coordinator in 2010-2011, vice president of the League in 2012-2013, and treasurer in 2014-2015. She has also been a coach of the U6 Boys Soccer team for two years, a team mom for the traveling soccer team for four years, and a member of the Portuguese Celebration in Ferndale.
Conley noted that it was difficult for D’anna to receive this recognition.
“She has missed our radar over the past years,” Conley said, “because she just does these things and wants no one to notice. But the height of your sunflower has grown to the size that we couldn’t help but notice.”
Jordyn Quen is a freshman at Fortuna High School. She plays soccer, basketball, and is currently a member of the junior varsity volleyball team. She has also played softball, and has held a number of offices at school, starting with student council representative in 6th grade, and class treasurer in 8th grade. She was also nominated this year as freshman class princess.
“As you can see this young lady has truly been blossoming into the strong sunflower, and I can’t wait to see what she will bring to our community in the near future,” Conley said of Jordyn.
Joey Quen plays soccer, basketball and Eel River Valley Youth football. He has also played baseball, and was selected for three all-star teams (10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds). He has been a member of Boy Scouts of America since 2012, and volunteers to help with the July 3 Independence Day celebration at Newburg Park in Fortuna.
“Joey has just started blooming into a great young man,” Conley said, “that I know you’re going to hear a lot about in years to come.”
“Our goal each year is to bring to light an amazing family, and I think you’ll all agree we have accomplished that this year when selecting this deserving family,” Conley said of the Quen family receiving the Fortuna Kiwanis Family of the Year Award.
Both the Quen family and Fennell received pre-recorded congratulations at the event from Fortuna Mayor Sue Long and 1st District Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn, both of whom were unable to attend.