JACKSON CO. Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – For more than 25 years, women in Jackson County have been honored for their contributions to the community. Today, five more women were recognized for the time they give to benefit Jackson County.

From volunteering in food pantries to giving community members a ride, the women honored at the 28th annual Women in History ceremony have helped make a difference in Jackson County.

“You volunteer because you have the time and the ability, and you want to give back to the community. You don’t do it for recognition. You do it because you care.”

The Jackson County Interfaith Volunteers host the event and partner with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office along with the Jackson County ADRC and Black River Falls Memorial Hospital.

Pam Johnson was a part of the original committee that started the ceremony in 1996.

“And little did we know back in the mid-1990s, when this program started, that it would just blossom and grow and grow year after year.”

And grew it did. The recipients come back each year to cheer on the next group of five recipients selected from a dozen nominees.

“They come and it’s with pride and joy that they have received this award.”

Recipients are notified by the sheriff’s office. Johnson herself is one of this year’s winners. She volunteered her time at a hospice center, helped the local theatre group make costumes, and even sat on the board of Interfaith Volunteers.

“When I got my letter this year, having been on the committee all these years and now being a recipient, it just warms my heart so much.”

Sheriff Duane Waldera says while the Women in History program started long before his time, he knows it was essential to his predecessors to continue the tradition.

“And now we have a chance to say ‘you’ve been overlooked in the past but we recognize you today and in the future for what you have done for the community.”

The recipients are decided by an anonymous panel.