A Party for Penny

By Vonda Gates

6 June 2018 was a day to party with Penny Simkin. There was much to celebrate: 30 years of training doulas, 50 years of teaching childbirth classes, 60 years of marriage, and 80 years of life. The day of teaching included Simkin family musicians, insightful speakers, friends and peers, Penny’s favorite candy at every table, and birthday cake. As the sun set, many of us joined Penny and her family for a glittery gala at the Seattle Aquarium. There are few individuals in the professional birth field who have made as much a global impact as this one gentle champion. A physical therapist by training, Penny’s keen observations have translated into actions that have made a difference one birth and one family at a time and launched the career path of doula. There were common themes among those who gathered to party with Penny. Her family rejoiced in her mothering gifts, her students celebrated her teaching skills, and peers marked the many milestones she has accomplished. But all testified to her gentle style of coming alongside any challenge and persistently seeking a path of climbing together toward a worthy goal. Penny exemplifies the doula traits she teaches; the quiet but persistent skills of acceptance, understanding, encouragement, and sharing strength for the journey. So, we partied with Penny. There was plenty of Penny songs, Penny stories, and Penny love. Please Penny, let’s not stop partying with you!

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