A ‘remarkable woman’ honoring women

Kim Erickson looking for stories, donations

Posted 3/28/23

HONESDALE, PA — Kim Erickson isn’t big on sitting still. Even when she’s supposed to.

“[When] I had my knee replaced, they told me I was going to be out of work for six …

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A ‘remarkable woman’ honoring women

Kim Erickson looking for stories, donations


HONESDALE, PA — Kim Erickson isn’t big on sitting still. Even when she’s supposed to.

“[When] I had my knee replaced, they told me I was going to be out of work for six weeks. I was back in 17 days,” she said. “I just don’t do good sitting around.”

And when she finishes up a 10-hour shift at Bethany Village Senior Living Community, where she works full-time as the activities director, she said the last thing she wants to do is go home and watch television. Instead, Erickson works on her “second job” as a community organizer.

For years, Erickson has been at the center of unique local projects, dreaming up creative ways to raise money for an array of causes, then carrying those ideas to fruition herself. One of her most memorable campaigns was when she rallied the community to fill an entire dump truck full of pennies. Although she said people called her “crazy” when she first had the idea, she ended up raising more than $8,000 in pennies for the American Cancer Society. Another one of her favorites was “recycled bingo,” after Christmas one year. Instead of using donation money to purchase prizes for the bingo winners, she asked participants to donate their Christmas presents that they never really wanted anyway.

“I like crazy fundraisers,” she said. “Everyone says you’ve got to do the hundred-dollar dinners. Well, then you’ve got to lay out how much to do the dinner?”

Erickson prefers more direct, organic ways of fundraising. Rather than sell a magazine or a candy bar, she said she asks her neighbors to give directly to her; that way the entirety of the donation is going toward the cause.

“I hate wasting the money,” Erickson said. “If you’re willing to spend the $2 on a candy bar, maybe just give me two bucks for the cause, that way I’m not giving $1.50 back to Gertrude Hawk.”

She earned regional recognition for her years of community service recently. Erickson is one of four finalists recognized in WBRE’s Remarkable Women of Northeast PA initiative. If chosen from the four finalists, she’ll be considered for Nexstar Media’s nationwide Woman of the Year award.

Right now, Erickson’s focus is on raising money and collecting stories to create a monument for female veterans and service members in downtown Honesdale.

“I just happened to have a couple people come to me and say, ‘You know, there’s no real female veteran monuments around,’” Erickson said. “And, you know me, I said, OK, let’s do it.”

History and service

This won’t be the first veteran-focused project Erickson has headed up. Her grandfather was a veteran of World War II and her father was a Navy veteran. Though she says that she wasn’t an “army brat” growing up, she’s always been interested in history and has a deep respect for those who served their country.

“I just think it’s very admirable that they’re willing to give up part of their lives,” she said. “I’m always trying to teach the [younger generations] that we should honor these people.”

That’s why Erickson worked on the “Tour of Honor” committee. In 2007, she helped the project raise tens of thousands of dollars to rent a plane that carried WWII veterans and their caretakers to Washington D.C. to see the WWII memorial there.

More recently, Erickson visited nearly 170 cemeteries in Wayne County in order to learn the names of the area’s deceased veterans. After the painstaking process of gathering that information, she developed the “Walk of Honor,” a walkway next to the Wayne County Courthouse that features 17 podiums with the names of the communities’ veterans and where in the county they are buried.

In 2020, Erickson and other community members trudged through red tape, COVID-19 delays and even bad weather to hang banners bearing the names and photographs of 142 local veterans throughout the streets of Honesdale. Despite her knee replacement, she spent three days on foot, climbing a ladder to hang many of the banners herself.

Female veterans’ monument

The new monument will be placed outside of the Dimmick Building—a fitting location, Erickson said, since this historic building opened as the county’s first hospital in 1920. In the earliest days of the U.S. military, women served essential roles as nurses. Erickson said the stone monument in Honesdale will highlight the many jobs women have performed in the military throughout the country’s history.

“In the olden days, women were nurses in the military, but they weren’t recognized as veterans,” she said. Up until 1917, military nurses were denied retirement pensions, as well as disability pensions if injured in the line of duty.

The push to formally recognize around 120,000 women who served in World War II as cadet nurses remains an ongoing effort today. The surviving nurses from that war remain the only uniformed corps members from WWII not to be recognized as veterans.

With the help of her residents at Bethany Village, Erickson has been researching the history of the female veterans throughout the region. That’s how she learned about Loretta Perfectus Walsh, a woman from Olyphant, PA—30 minutes away from Honesdale—who became the first woman to serve in the Navy.

In addition to her own research efforts, Erickson is asking people throughout the region—not just Wayne County residents—to submit stories and photos of female veterans in their family, or just somebody they know. Folks who don’t know what to write about their veteran can fill out a questionnaire that Erickson has created. In addition to the monument, Erickson plans to compile the stories and photos she collects into a booklet.

Residents with stories or photos to submit can reach Erickson through email at kimeric1967@yahoo.com or by phone at 570/251-7741. To donate, Erickson said folks can mail a check to 29 Cherry Hill Rd, Honesdale PA 18431, or donate online at www.waynefoundation.networkforgood.com and select the “Honoring Our Heroes” option when submitting the donation.

In the meantime, Erickson is brainstorming another one of her classic, colorful fundraising efforts for the project. Perhaps, she said, she’ll get folks to help her surround Honesdale’s Central Park with quarters.

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