I received a call from Trey Oakley at Methodist Children’s Home who notified me that they had submitted the story of Elizabeth and my wreath fundraising efforts to raise money for a named endowment at MCH to the Coalition of Residential Excellence (CORE). CORE is a national educational advocacy organization dedicated to deliver high quality services for children and youth. I was humbled that they felt my actions were worthy of a submission, but Trey informed me that I had been selected for the national award! The Catherine Hershey Philanthropist of the Year Award! The award is named after the wife of Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey chocolate and the Milton Hershey School. John and I have visited Hershey, PA and when you go to the Hershey museum, there are expansive exhibits on the Milton Hershey School. According to their website it says of Catherine:
“Catherine actively participated in the Lancaster Charity Society, an organization dedicated to aiding the poor families and children of the city. This experience likely influenced the decision of the Hersheys to found a school and home for orphan children. Milton Hershey always said that the idea for starting Milton Hershey School was Catherine’s and her experience in helping to direct and supervise the work of the Society helped to influence both the course of instruction as well as the overall home philosophy of their home and school. Mrs. Prudence Copenhaver, the wife of the school superintendent, often met with Catherine to go over the program of the home, menus, clothing, training in social etiquette and other skills Catherine thought children should learn. It is Catherine who insisted the Deed of Trust for the school include a provision that the children would not be clothed in uniforms or other kinds of “distinctive dress.”
Catherine’s pivotal role in founding and shaping the school is confirmed in the Deed of Trust establishing the school in 1909 and signed by both Milton and Catherine Hershey. At a time when women had little involvement in the business and legal affairs of their husbands, Catherine’s standing as a co-founder meant that she would continue to play an active role in the school in the event of the death of her husband who was 14 years her senior. As it turned out, Milton would outlive his wife by 30 years before his own death in 1945.”
I told Troy, I am not usually rendered speechless, but this clearly took me by surprise. And even though I am very honored to have been selected, my motivation was simply as a grieving mom with the strong desire to keep the memory and legacy of my daughter going forward at a place that she was passionate about. A legacy that will touch others for many years to come.
I received my award at a dinner on May 24, 2016 at First United Methodist in Killeen, Texas. We were gathering to celebrate the opening of a Family Outreach office in Killeen. Here are a few pictures and a close up of my award.
In closing, I want to thank my Methodist Children’s Home family for thinking of me for this prestigious honor. My prayer and my hope is that I will continue to honor the memory of this amazing lady that the award is named after.
And to my heavenly Father, it is to you whom all honor and glory belongs. I will continue to follow the path that you have set before me. You continue to show me that Elizabeth’s story did not end on July 30, 2012. You continue to use her life today. And you have allowed me to be a part of the journey! I thank you for continuing to honor her and for your promise to bring beauty from the ashes.
My heart is so full of gratitude, joy and blessings it could burst!