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Come laugh with Renée

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Renée Rongen has been described as combination of Oprah, Lily Tomlin, and Mother Teresa, and she’s coming next week to entertain and inspire the women of Western Nevada County.

Her appearance is part of the Laughter is the Best Medicine series sponsored by Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) at the Center for the Arts (CFTA) in Grass Valley. She will appear 11 a.m. Thursday (Oct. 17) and a box lunch will be served. Admission is a minimum $30 donation, which will help fight breast cancer.

“Men are certainly not excluded from enjoying this program,” said Debbie Plass, vice president of marketing and business development for the hospital. “But Ms. Rongen’s focus will be ‘Fundamentally Female,’ which is the title of her latest book.”



In fact, proceeds of the program will be used to benefit the hospital’s breast cancer screening and treatment efforts, as part of October’s designation as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Plass said Rongen “understands the importance of breast cancer awareness month, and is coming to Grass Valley to support this cause. She will entertain us over a box lunch, thanks to Emily’s Catering, and talk about topics ranging from marriage, motherhood, and midlife, to menopause. She makes laughter really good medicine.”




Rongen is a parent, entrepreneur, author and humorist who has been dubbed “the mother of motivation.” In her international speaking engagements she has inspired thousands, delivering humorous, powerful, life-changing messages, Plass said.

Julie Baker, executive director of The Center for the Arts, said Rongen “is best known for her authenticity and for empowering audiences to become architects of their own lives. She always manages to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Rongen is a sought-after keynote speaker for corporations, professional organizations, universities, parent, and women’s groups across the nation.

“I heard Renée speak at a Sacramento Dignity Health event titled ‘Care Begins With Me,’ about a year ago,” Plass recalled. “She captivated the audience of 600 women with real stories bigger than life. She made me laugh so much, I cried.”

Baker lauded Rongen’s dynamic delivery, sprinkled with true stories, “each story ending with an enduring message and special meaning for the soul.”

Rongen is the international spokesperson for the Pay It Forward Foundation, and has served as trustee on numerous corporate, healthcare, economic development, education, and foundation boards. She is the recipient of the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Women’s Business Center. She is a founder and former president of the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund and a hospice volunteer.

Her “legacy living” philosophy has been featured in many national publications, including “Entrepreneur,” “Fortune,” “Better Homes and Gardens,” “Female Entrepreneur,” “Smart Money,” and “Parenting” magazines.

She is the author of the Christmas coffee table classic, “Grandy’s Quilt – a Gift for All Seasons,” and has written for “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Her latest book, “Fundamentally Female,” was released in October 2012 and has won regional and national awards along with being included in the swag bags for female Oscar nominees.

Despite her professional accolades, Rongen declared that her favorite titles are those of “wife to Tom, mom to Alexander, Elizabeth, and Grace, and girlfriend to many.” She said when she’s not chasing basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, and feeding her four-legged friends, she keeps busy kayaking, horseback riding, or is busy in the family vineyard.

Rongen has a bachelor degree in business from the College of St. Benedict, has studied in Salzburg, Austria, and has completed graduate course work at the University of Mary.

Plass noted that this special program is being offered in the afternoon and augmented by a luncheon to accommodate women’s schedules.

The hospital-sponsored Laugher is the Best Medicine series this year has featured Paul Reiser, Dana Carvey, and Bill Cosby, has been very successful, and will likely be continued in 2014, Plass said.

“This series has been so enjoyable and is worth an encore to keep our community laughing often. It’s good for our collective health,” she said.

“We are always delighted to work with the hospital, an organization that does so much for our community. Our hope is that this event builds awareness and creates funds for breast cancer prevention and treatment, while providing some needed humor, inspiration, and insight for members of our community,” Baker said.

Tickets may be obtained online, at the CFTA Box Office Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., at the door, or by contacting The Center for the Arts at 530- 274-8384, or snmh.org.

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.


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