Moms set the bar high

As far as being a role model goes, Newport Beach mother Alanna Psomas had a pretty full plate raising four children and nine grandchildren.

Now, she and three other women find themselves as Orange County's stand-up examples of motherhood.

Psomas, Kathleen McGaughan of Irvine, Diann LeVecke of Villa Park and Bonnie Allen-Luna of Irvine were honored Thursday night as the 2012 Casa Teresa Mother of the Year award winners.

"I think it's wonderful that I'm being an example," Psomas, 72, said. "I think it's a lovely thought that just doing what I'm doing is showing the new young mothers at Casa Teresa, who are being trained to be independent and to be leaders, that you can be a mother and still be your very own self. It is a marvelous thing to learn."

The event at the Hyatt Regency Irvine drew more than 300 supporters and past and present residents of Casa Teresa, a homeless shelter in Orange for pregnant women.

"Our honorees are role models for Casa Teresa moms," said Carol McDermott, the event's mistress of ceremonies. "Tonight, they get to see the potential for their future lives. This is an example of the loving families that they can aspire to."

The organization helps about 100 women and babies every year, said Casa Teresa Executive Director Stacey Proctor.

"We selected our honorees because they were able to balance family, work and volunteering, and they made it work," Proctor said. "No matter what pressures they had, they made it work — so they already were role models."

Psomas is a board member of the St. John Vianney Chapel Guild, chairwoman of the St. John Vianney Bereavement ministry and board member of the Women's Leadership Council at Loyola Marymount University.

She and her husband, Tim, are both charter members of the Orange County Legatus. He is also chairman of the American Council of Engineering Companies.

"I do think that being a mother is a tremendous volunteer opportunity — you don't even have to leave the house to be volunteer," Psomas said. "But what I think that this is about, it's not about being an activist. It's about being a leader and being someone who is sure of herself. Motherhood does not hold you down."

McGaughan is a mother of two and volunteer at St. Thomas More's parish ministries, LeVecke is a mother of three and a member of the Order of Malta, and Allen-Luna is mother of three and a Casa Teresa alumna.

Twitter: @speters01

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