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Women’s passion to help worth emulating

Through the course of our lives we meet all sorts of interesting people.

We come across them in happy and sad moments, special occasions and tragedies. Some of those people we’d like to forget, others make a lasting impression and others still challenge us to become better versions of ourselves.

Recently, I met two women who have devoted their lives to helping others. Though they have vastly different stories and motivation behind their efforts, both are people we should aspire to be more like.

They are “warrior women,” as the young woman I met from Alaska would call them.

She says she is working toward that moniker, following in the footsteps of her mother and “second mother” who make things happen, especially to better the lives of those around them.

At first glance, Shayla Silva, the woman from Alaska, seems to be leading a charmed life. She is a former Miss Alaska International, graceful, confident and has an exciting career with a fire department that she loves.

Yet, if you take time to talk to her, you will learn that her past is filled with darkness and tragedies, including domestic violence, that led her to contemplate suicide.

Somehow she learned to turn that around, looking for the light in every situation, no matter how dark and uses whatever platforms she can to share her story, giving “hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless.”

She explained: “Life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and you only get hurt if you get off in the middle.”

You can read about Shayla in the article that starts on the front page of this issue.

The other, Amy Moore Peterson, was living a practically picture-perfect life with her husband, a commercial pilot when they received a diagnosis that he had early onset Alzheimer’s disease. In just a little more than 10 years, he had to quit flying and was dead.

Since then, she has taken her “been there, done that” attitude and turned it into an opportunity to help others find the resources they need and advocate for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

You can read about Amy later this month.

There are plenty of other warrior women here in town, too. They serve on the boards of directors for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, raising funds and awareness for an assortment of causes such as promoting literacy and helping the homeless or providing scholarships so people can pursue their own passions.

They also serve on city commissions working to help preserve historic properties, making sure there are recreational opportunities for people of all ages and organizing special events such as the upcoming July 4th Damboree.

Some of those that I have been fortunate enough to meet are Charm McElree, who volunteers with Operation Recognition to see that those who left high school early to serve in the armed forces receive their diplomas; Jill Rowland-Lagan, who promotes all the good things about Boulder City through her work at the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce; Susan Johnson, who put her focus on those who often need the most help: senior citizens and hospital patients; and Dyanah Musgrave, who is working to create kits for those battling cancer based on her experiences and literally helps brighten the holiday season by hosting thousands of people at her home, affectionately dubbed The Christmas House.

I, too, have volunteered hundreds of hours to help the communities I have called home and hope that my efforts have earned me “warrior woman” status, although I admit my shield has gotten a little dusty lately and needs some shining. But I have no doubt that some cause or event will soon cross my path and I will once again battle for the betterment of others.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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