TORONTO and NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Harlequin, a leading publisher of women's fiction, honors three remarkable women with its annual More Than Words award. The winning recipients are paired with Harlequin authors, who will pen truly inspiring stories: how three women have dedicated their lives to build the spirits of those in need.
The stories will feature the 2013 recipients of the Ninth Annual Harlequin More Than Words award, an honor celebrating the women who make a positive difference in the lives of others. The winners are Cheryl Sesnon, who runs Jubilee Women's Center in Seattle, a place where troubled women can learn to leave homelessness behind forever; Nikki Berti, who co-founded the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation in Las Vegas, a group that provides 10,000 pairs of shoes to impoverished children each year; and Elizabeth Roelfs, a member of the Diller Community Foundation in Nebraska, a group dedicated to bringing big programs to small town America.
"These three remarkable women think first of others in their communities," said Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO of Harlequin. "It is our honor to present them with always needed funding to help their organizations continue their most important work."
Each organization will be awarded $15,000 and for the first time, their stories will be written by three Harlequin TEEN authors who are donating their time to honor the winners. The stories will appear in 2014 in eBook format, available for free download. Nominations are open to the public and narrowed down to the top five finalists for a public voting phase. By visiting www.HarlequinMoreThanWords.com, public voters selected their favorite nominee and the three nominees with the highest amount of votes were chosen as the 2013 Harlequin More Than Words award recipients.
Jubilee Women's Center helps women in crisis transform their lives by teaching them the skills to permanently leave their homeless situation behind. Jubilee provides a vulnerable population of single, homeless women with the tools and attention to help them rebuild their lives. "Jubilee Women's Center is an organization supporting women as they transition out of homelessness and domestic violence and into stable and fulfilling futures," said Executive Director Cheryl Sesnon. "This award is a reflection of the courage and determination of each of the extraordinary woman we serve. We are overwhelmed and grateful for the community's enthusiastic support."
The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation provides disadvantaged children and children in crisis with new shoes, socks and other items deemed essential for good health and positive development. The foundation strives to reach 10,000 Southern Nevada children annually and gives them the opportunity to select any pair of shoes they want from a traveling inventory of high-quality athletic shoes. The experience boosts confidence and self-esteem, and immediately eliminates one of the most visible signs of poverty. "Goodie Two Shoes empowers children with choice by allowing them to select any pair of shoes they want," said Nikki Berti, who co-founded the foundation with husband Tony, a former NFL player. "This award has strengthened my belief that each and every one of us can make a difference simply by choosing to put our best foot forward."
The Diller Community Foundation
in Nebraska focuses on improving the area for the future of the Diller children. Funds from the Diller Community Foundation support youth programs, like youth recruitment to the community and helping kids purchase uniforms and school supplies. "I am humbled by the loyal and enthusiastic support of so many who voted for the projects I represent," said Elizabeth Roelfs, a special education teacher who coordinates a summer reading program and a Big Buddies, Little Buddies program to pair young students with older mentors. "We are working hard to bring new residents and new jobs to our small town, helping ensure it will be the best town it can be for Diller's future generations."
The Harlequin More Than Words program is a corporate social responsibility initiative that aims to raise awareness of worthy causes that are of concern to women and mobilize others to take action in their communities. Since 2004—the inception of the program—an internal Harlequin employee committee has helped select the winners of the Harlequin More Than Words award from written submissions, which were judged on specific criteria, including capacity to inspire others and contribution to the community.
Harlequin (Harlequin.com) is one of the world's leading publishers of books for women, with titles issued worldwide in 34 languages and sold in 114 international markets. The company publishes more than 125 titles monthly and more than 1,200 authors from around the world. Harlequin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation (www.torstar.com), a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin's website is located at Harlequin.com. Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York and London. For more information, please visit Harlequin.com and Facebook.com/HarlequinBooks. Follow Harlequin on Twitter @HarlequinBooks.