Hoke named 2019 ATHENA recipient

Published 10:38 am Saturday, September 7, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Sandra Hoke was recognized for her accomplishments in the community by being presented the 2019 ATHENA sculpture by First Financial Bank Stephen Lee on Thursday at the Orange Train Depot.

Hoke, a retired teacher, was honored for her service to the community as a volunteer.

“This is all because of Michael,” Hoke said with a smile. “I had to stay busy, so I said yes to everything. That is how I got myself in this shape.”

She added, “My favorite kind of teacher to be is a retired teacher.”

Hoke was showcased for her leadership of both men and women in the Orange County Master Gardeners, a coordinator at the Field of Plenty Donation Garden, her advocacy for recycling as a Board Member of Keep Orange County Beautiful, as a teacher and mentor at First United Methodist Church and her contributions to Outdoor Education at Shangri La Botanical Garden and Nature Center.

Hoke served at President of Orange County Master Gardeners in 2012 and 2015 and Vice President in 2016 and 2017. She also helped start the gardening project at Circle K Day Care.

“Sandra Hoke is lovingly known as one of the two “Garden Ladies” with the Field of Plenty Donation Garden located behind OSC,” Director of Orange Christian Services (OSC) Judy Jensen said in the nomination. “Sandra was a vital part of the planning and ‘start-up’ of the garden.”

Lee, who has announced the recipient for the past 11 years, said it was an honor to present the statue to Hoke.

“I grew up down the road from the Hokes and have known them for 40 years,” Lee said. They are special people in my life.”

The ATHENA Award was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan and has grown to include presentations to more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities in the United States as well as in Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The award takes the form of a hand-cast bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage, and wisdom of the recipient. The award has been presented annually in Orange since 1993. 

An ATHENA recipient must meet each of three specific criteria:

  • Assist women in reaching their full potential
  • Demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession
  • Provide valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community

A selection committee, consisting of former recipients of the ATHENA award, reviews all nominations and select the recipient.