Rene Henderson of Mayflower was the 2020 recipient of the Shelly Mehl Women’s Empowerment Award. Awarded yearly by the University of Central Arkansas, it features women who have made a positive impact on their community.
The UCA student who nominated her wrote: “She astounded me from the moment I first met her, both with her empathy and compassion for others, and with her profound drive and nearly inexhaustible amount of energy, dedicated to serving her community, often with little or no recognition. She is a strong Arkansas woman who consistently encourages and empowers other strong Arkansas women, including her four young granddaughters.”
The student also mentioned Rene’s Free Meal Program, which ran during summer vacation to provide meals for children and adults who otherwise might not have access to meals every day.
In response to the news of her nomination, Rene wrote: “Receiving an award of this caliber would signal that women of color, advancing age and of lesser means, still count too. Lastly, it would serve as a motivation to continue the work of women worldwide in the areas of gender parity, leadership and empowerment.”
Rene is currently running for Justice of the Peace of Faulkner County District 4. She will also be honored at the UCA Suffrage Event in October.