BPW names its woman, employer of the year

By Lynn R. Parks

Sarah Peterson and Sylvia Boyer met 10 years ago over a set of artificial nails. Boyer was preparing for her wedding day and Peterson, a cosmetologist, was applying the nails. While their friendship never moved out of the beauty salon, the two women have grown increasingly close. “ She has seen me grow,” said Peterson. “And I’ve seen her grow. We both have blossomed spiritually. We pray together, and that has brought us closer together.” Now, their bond is even tighter. On Oct. 20, Peterson, owner of Superior Salon, Seaford, was honored at Maple Dale Country Club, Dover, as the Seaford chapter of Business and Professional Women’s employer of the year. She was nominated for the honor by Boyer, a member of BPW. That same night, Boyer was honored as the chapter’s woman of the year. “I was overwhelmed,” Boyer said. “I didn’t have a clue that this was going to happen and I was stunned.” According to Jane Short, spokeswoman for the Seaford BPW, woman of the year is the highest honor a BPW chapter can hand out. It goes to “ a member who has distinguished herself in the club and in the community,” she said. “The award calls attention to her outstanding work and it is particularly fitting that it is given out during National Businesswoman’s Week.” The employer of the year award goes to an employer who has promoted equal opportunity for women in the workplace and who has practiced equal opportunity for growth and development of women. Qualifications for the award include providing a job atmosphere that guarantees equal pay for equal work, helping employees with additional education, establishing a liberal family and medical leave policy, offering support for employees who have to provide dependent care and providing ample opportunity for upward mobility and advanced training. Boyer, 54, Seaford, is a nurse at the Kent County Community School, part of the Capital School District. She grew up in Seaford and graduated from Seaford High School in 1965. She obtained a nursing degree from Methodist Hospital, Philadelphia, in 1968 and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wesley College, Dover, in 1988. She and her husband Bill have seven children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her father, Martin, is deceased. Her mother, Ruth Sammons, and her brother Gerald Sammons, both live in Seaford. In addition to her job as school nurse, Boyer also sells Mary Kay cosmetics. She started as a consultant in 1993 and in 1996, became a director, with a unit of consultants under her. While family responsibilities make it impossible for her to work as director now, she still manages several consultants and sells cosmetics. She joined the Seaford chapter of BPW three years ago, after looking around for an organization to which she could contribute. “I wanted someplace where my talents and gifts would work,” she said. Since then, she has been instrumental in the club’s fund-raising. With the money it earned from a pin sale she organized, the club was able to offer an additional $500 scholarship last year. This year, she is serving as club recording secretary.

“This is a very dynamic group of women,” she said. “There are so many talented women and so much they can share with each other. This is a group that is making a difference in our community and in our lives.” As for her award, Boyer is reluctant to take all the credit. “Whatever I am able to do, I do with gifts God gave me,” she said. “I don’t expect accolades. And when I get them, I am always stunned and humbled and praise the Lord for his gifts.” Peterson lived in Berlin, Md., until the second grade, then moved to Laurel. She graduated from Laurel High School in 1985 and from Delmarva Beauty Academy, Salisbury, Md., in 1990. She opened Superior Salon in the former Gray’s Market in 1993. She and her husband Allen, who owns Estate Renovations and Builders, have two children, April Williams, 11, and Austin Peterson, 6. The family lives in Laurel. Peterson, who is not a member of BPW, said that attending the awards ceremony and receiving her plaque gave her a deeper understanding of the capabilities of women. “It made me realize what women can do,” she said. “We can do anything with perseverance, and with encouragement and love like I get from Sylvia.” And she is proof of that: At the age of 34, she has sold a nail-gel to Creative Nail Designs. The gel, designed with chemist Pam Lilley, Prescott, Ariz., is less harsh than gels currently on the market, she said. It is currently available only in her salon and in several salons in the Seaford area to which she sells it. When the deal with Creative is complete — “All we have to do is sign the papers,” she said— it will be available in 49 countries. With the proceeds from the deal, Peterson and her husband, members of Church of Christ, Laurel, are opening a Christian camp on Portsville Road, near Laurel. They recently broke ground for construction of the first buildings on the camp, which will be built on 76 acres that was in Allen Peterson’s family. “This is my biggest dream,” she said. “Something I have been praying about for eight years.” The camp will feature cabins for week-long stays and in addition to hosting youth and teenage campers will have retreats for men, women and families. Peterson also recently became certified to teach nail technology. As for Superior Salon, she is stepping back. She plans to either sell it or turn it over to a manager by the end of the year. Like Boyer, Peterson does not take full credit for her accomplishments. “I have to give the credit all to God,” she said. “Without my religion, I wouldn’t have the balance in my life that I need to do all this.” And that is something that, through her camp, she hopes to foster in all children. “Children need to be loved,” she said. “Children need to believe in themselves and to know that anything is possible. They need to have balance and stability in their lives.”

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