Beautiful Women 2009 P2
Written by Admin
Winnipeg's Most Beautiful Women 2009
Yvonne Pregely is in possession of what some might call a heart of gold. A born and raised Winnipeg woman, she gives so selflessly, one can only imagine that if the rest of society was as willing to give of themselves, we might be living in an entirely different world.
Though only 36 years old, Yvonne has been volunteering her support to endless causes for much of her life. And while many may gravitate towards “feel-good” causes, she isn’t one to shy away from the tough situations. Through what started off as a volunteer position and quickly turned into a full time job at the Victim Services Section (VSS) for The City of Winnipeg, Yvonne has seen beauty in places that many may find unlikely.
“I think some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen people do, or the most beautiful things that have come out, are from the times when it’s been the hardest for people. Coming out of the dark, or the grief, or the sorrow–that’s where I see a lot of beauty. Not even through the person going through something difficult, but the people that rally around to help. There’s such a beauty to that, the sense of community and support, the humanity of people coming together,” she says of some of the situations she’s witnessed. Besides the traumas she dealt with at VSS, she has also seen her share of illness and difficult moments among her own friends and family.
“There are people in this city who are gifted and talented and selfless—I’m getting choked up just thinking about them because they’re truly amazing people—but there have been volunteers there for 10 years, who come in faithfully every week, do their shift, and go home.”
Little does she know, she’s one of those people herself.
Yvonne gives credit to her mom for how she lives her life, saying that she has been instrumental in all that she does. When her father passed away when she was a child, she helped her mother to pick up the pieces. She volunteered at the Winnipeg International Children’s Festival for 10 years, until she had to scale back some of her “outside” activities to care for her ailing grandparents. She has also been working a staggering 22 years at the Centennial Concert Hall—which at such a young age is hard to believe.
“I don’t know why I’m so busy, but I feel like I’m always doing something,” she laughs. It’s easy to understand why when you find out that she pledges her support to most any foundation, gets involved with pancake breakfasts, goes to fundraising dinners, walk-a-thons, helps out at friends’ churches, with plays and has ridden in the MS Bike Tour among other things. Her philanthropic efforts are truly astounding.
And all of this is on top of a full-time job as a research analyst for the Winnipeg Police Service, the near full-time job of planning her upcoming August wedding, and spending time with her 14-month-old nephew, Daniel. She is also currently working towards getting her certificate in adult and continuing education at the University of Manitoba, to add to the double major she already holds in justice in law enforcement and business administration.
You might think that with so many causes and involvements, Yvonne must be exhausted, but she shows no signs of slowing down on her huge-hearted efforts.
Her thoughts? “So many things to support and nurture, so little time!”
—by Ali Mintenko
Nenita with her friend and nominator Andrea.
There’s truth to the saying, good deeds usually go unnoticed. When a person extends a helping hand they aren’t often rewarded for their kindness.
But when Nenita Saria was recognized by Winnipeg Women Magazine for her devotion to helping others she declined the contest win and asked for her friend to be honoured in place of herself. The kicker is her friend, Andrea, was the person who nominated her in the first place.
“I feel ever so bad,” Nenita says repeatedly of being one of the magazine’s five contest winners. “I felt happy, mad, sad, guilty … there are people out there that deserve it more than I do.”
The annual Winnipeg’s Most Beautiful Women contest asks readers to nominate someone who exemplifies the true meaning of beauty. In Andrea’s eyes, Nenita is exactly why a contest like this exists. She defined “beauty” by describing her friend and co-worker Nenita in her nomination letter, “Any of us need only to look to our left, right, or no distance at all, to see beautiful people all around us. In Nenita’s case, you can feel her beauty, without having her by your side. She is joyful, and it is contagious, and it is a good thing the affliction is permanent once it is passed on.”
The pint-sized, first-time grandmother, who talks fast and walks fast, moved to Canada from the Philippines with just $50 in her pocket. She put herself through university and eventually became a nurse, a job she’s held at a Winnipeg personal care home for nearly 30 years. There, she cares for the elderly patients as if they were her own parents. In turn, they treat her as if she is one of their children; watching over her when she least expects it. Nenita, until recently, didn’t realize that when she napped during her breaks one of the patients watched her as she slept, worrying that someone might hurt her.
“It’s not hard, my job,” Nenita says with a warm smile. “I get consolation, happiness and joy because I’m receiving more than giving. It’s important to me putting smiles on their faces. They are so beautiful when they smile and that’s more than money can buy.”
When Nenita isn’t caring for her elderly patients in the evenings, she’s babysitting the newest addition to her growing family. The grandmother rarely sleeps, waking only a few short hours after her full-time shift to watch over her grandson Zander during the day.
This nurturing spirit extends even further than Nenita’s workplace and her home life. Over the years she has been influential in changing the lives of nearly 19 friends and family members from Philippines, sponsoring each one personally to ensure each and every one gets a better life in Canada.
When they arrive they are given first-class treatment: they are allowed to live as long as they need in her already-crowded home until they are ready to branch out. Then she provides winter clothing for the Manitoban climate and scouts schools for their children.
“My son came over one day and asked me, ‘Mom, did we get robbed? Where’s the couch?’” she says with a laugh. Needless to say, Nenita gives more than her heart when she feels someone is in need.
Nenita is celebrating her 31st wedding anniversary this year with her husband Josefino. The couple has two sons, Wesley and Bradley, and a growing list of family and friends that continue to be inspired by her.
“She lets her heart flow and knows love and expresses it,” Andrea says. “Everything about her is beautiful.”
— by Alana Pona