ONTARIO — When you’ve lived your whole life in one place, you often find you want to give back to that place. Cheryl Farley works as a CNA at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario, and has dedicated much of her time off from work to giving back to the community. A lifetime Treasure Valley resident, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Citizen Committee has selected Farley for the Woman of the Year award.
When asked why the Chamber selected Farley for the award, Chamber CEO John Breidenbach cited her work gathering backpacks and clothes for local youth as one example of her volunteerism.
“She works at the hospital, takes time off of her own schedule, her own vacation to volunteer throughout the community,” said Breidenbach. “We’re very proud of her and all of our recipients of the awards this year. We always try to salute the people who go above and beyond and support our community. I think she’s a wonderful lady.”
Briedenbach noted that Farley has also been a winner of Idaho’s Jefferson Award for Public Service.
Debbie Blackaby, chairwoman for the Chamber, said Farley’s win was a long-time coming in her view.
“I had nominated Cheryl for the last three years because of the sacrifice that she makes of herself for so many different people,” said Blackaby. “And she does it from her heart. She’s not attached to a specific organization, she does it all on her own.”
Blackaby also describes Farley as a “fun” person to have around.
Claudia Weathermon-Tester, Marketing and Community Relations representative for Saint Alphonsus, added that she regards Farley as a “treasure” for the medical facility.
“She’s very dedicated and beloved by all of her coworkers, and she … spreads sunshine everywhere she goes,” said Weathermon-Tester.
The Argus spoke with Farley as she helped set up the Festival of Trees on Nov. 21. Farley said the award was a surprise for her.
“It’s very exciting,” said Farley.
Farley says she has been volunteering in the community for 20 years and has lived in Ontario since her childhood.
“I like to work with people, I like to help the children, I care for the homeless … people that don’t have anything; I’m giving back to people that have less than I do.”
Farley said she gets her desire to give from her parents; her mother worked at Ore-Ida and her father worked for the city of Ontario.
“They taught us good morals and standards when we were growing up,” said Farley, who said she shared a meager childhood with her five siblings. “Often times … some of us that have more haven’t learned how to give back or when [we] can give back. Just one item can change someone’s attitude for the day, one bottle of soap, one package of toothpaste, a new dress, a new pair of shoes can change a child’s life.”
Farley thanks the Chamber for thinking of her this awards season.
“I appreciate everyone voting for me.”
The Woman of the Year award will be presented to Farley at the Chamber’s Awards Banquet at Four Rivers Cultural Center on Jan. 10.