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Mother of the Year Contest
 
  Previous Newsletters:  

The judges had a very tough job in making their decision. In the end they picked a top three winners and four honorable mentions!

 
         
      FIRST PLACE: Molly Connell, who was nominated by her Aunt Pat.  
  Summer 2014  

I nominate my niece, Molly Connell, for Mother of the Year. Despite the fact that she has never had a child, nor adopted one, she is one of the best mothers I know.
Approximately twelve years ago Molly met Evelio when she was his teacher in the special needs school he attended. He was severely neurologically and physically impaired. He was non-verbal, not toilet trained and barely mobile. He had many medical and psychological problems. His biological family was both financially and logistically incapable of meeting his overwhelming needs. Slowly over the years Evelio spent more and more time with Molly and her family. Eventually she established guardianship for him and devoted her life to giving him a life. This required an enormous amount of her time and money, covering his unreimbursed expenses, e.g. glasses, special braces, various therapies, etc. She advocated for him at every stage, in hopes of his gaining more independence.
On the occasions that I have met Evelio, I have seen him grow and improve because of all the love he has received from Molly. I will never forget the first time I saw him smile and show his love in return. He has lived with her family for many years, up until last year when he moved on to a group home, around the time Molly was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, as her mother before her (who also lives with them). He still spends weekends and vacations with the Connells. Molly continues to advocate for all his needs ensuring that others provide him with the same level of care that she has. An exceptional mother deserves an exceptional award.

 
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SECOND PLACE: Kelly Hunter-Rich, who was nominated by her husband, Dave Rich

Kelly Hunter-Rich was a mother of one son (Ryan) and an angel who enthusiastically assisted those in need in any situation. Sadly, Kelly passed away 10/11/2013 at the young age of 34. She had passed away due to an undiagnosed heart disease. Ironically, she had the biggest heart to help those in need. Kelly was able to juggle being a loving mother to then, 2 year old son, a devoted and loving wife, a fervent aide to her mother who was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer in November 2009. Her mother remained in Florida and Kelly traveled often to see her. Kelly also assisted her mother in obtaining critical care from Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) as her mother did not have any health insurance. Kelly assisted VIM in fund raising and other charity events to assist in raising charitable funds for VIM. All during this time Kelly was on the board of directors for the AMT Children of Hope Foundation. Kelly was the Secretary of the Board.
Kelly often assisted her Uncle, Timothy Jaccard – the Founder of the AMT Children of Hope Foundation – in helping organize events, assist in obtaining donations (ie. services, gifts, or funds) from business and individuals, as well as reviewing drafts of proposed legislation to further the safety of unplanned or abandoned babies. Kelly had actually attended one of  the Foundation’s events in Freeport the weekend prior to her passing. Kelly also assisted MOMMAS House in obtaining both needed items as well as donations. It would be an honor to Kelly, and especially Ryan, to be recognized for her dedication to the community.

kelly

THIRD PLACE: Fotini (Fofo) Pappas, who was nominated by her daughter, Sophia Niarchos

"Sacrifice" should be her middle name. My mother sacrificed her youth and even getting educated to do as her mother told her: cook and take care of her family's home in a mountainous village in northern Greece while her parents worked the fields and her three brothers and a sister went to school. She sacrificed her desire to stay in her homeland after World War II for the greater good of the family; her mother, widowed when her husband (my grandfather, my mother's adored father) was killed in a Nazi mass murder. Her mother could no longer afford to feed her children and decided my mother, who was her eldest daughter, would have to go to America and live with relatives in a strange land even though she didn't know the language. Mother sacrificed any extracurricular activities she wanted to pursue for the benefit of her children, going to work full-time when they were old enough to go to school on their own, as well as doing all of the household chores she considered important in the evening and on weekends. My mother washed walls, did laundry using a wringer washing machine and clotheslines, cleaned, cooked, traveled to work on three buses every day of the week but weekends, and even sacrificed formally learning the English language to focus on her husband and children. Her sacrifices contributed to her daughters' each receiving a college education. She prepared elaborate meals not only for her immediate family but for our aunts, uncles, cousins and others. She led and, at 93+, continues to lead a virtuous life, a life worthy of Christ, despite much suffering, without complaining. She deserves recognition for her contributions to our world.

fotini

HONORABLE MENTION: Antoinette Lash, who was nominated by her daughter, Robyn Siegel

It wasn't until I became a mother myself that I truly realized all that my mother has done and continues to do. She does what every mother does, and then some, without complaint - always making sacrifices and putting her children first. Taking us to our activities, helping with homework - and last minute projects we might have told her were due the night before! She has struggled through Thyroid Disease, high blood pressure, divorce and Diabetes - never pausing to rest or tell us "Not now." At almost 70 years young, my mother continues to work as a nurse by day and now a grandmother! Everything she did for me, is now repeated for my children. She was diagnosed with gastric cancer last year, yet continued to work through treatment and surgery. After a brief remission, the cancer has returned to her chest. She is still working, and being the best mom and grandmother ever! No matter how sick her medicine makes her, or how tired she is, once again she makes it through with a smile on her face. Maybe not feeling so good on the inside, but you'd never know it on the outside - Continuing to help, support and love her family. Everyone thinks their mom is special, but I KNOW mine IS! She is the strongest woman I know. She should be Mother of the Year because she NEVER stops being a mom even though her two children (me and my brother) are grown. She NEVER stops being a positive example no matter how sick she may be. Her selflessness goes beyond anyone I know - and it’s her turn to be recognized and spoiled. Thank you.

Antoinette

HONORABLE MENTION: Rose Rosato , who was nominated by her son Frank

My mom was a very special woman. When her sister deserted her husband and two young children my mom took them in because her husband was a drinker and couldn't take care of them properly. She helped him get back on his feet and he then worked steady and supported them in her care. My mom had myself, my sister and younger brother and husband to care of as well. She never neglected any of us and sacrificed things for herself, for all of us. Later in life when all the children got older, she volunteered at Goldwater Hospital for terminal ill patients who could not do the slightest things for themselves. She had very bad knees and diabetes but that didn't stop her from taking a long walk,a bus and a train twice a week to care for these patients. She was the first one to help anyone in the neighborhood where I grew up,which was Woodside Queens.She grew up on the west side in Manhattan and was the oldest girl in her family. There were eleven children in her family and her father died when she eleven, so help in bringing up her siblings was a big part of her childhood. She later helped her mother move to an apartment on the same block in which she lived,in Woodside. She then took care of her mother,who only spoke broken English and her mentally challenged brother,whom she wound up taking care of after her mother's death.She never had much but managed to save every penny she could to make her family's life better. She developed kidney problems and died at the age of 70 in 1995. Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, which was just recently torn down presented her with a plaque, which they hung in the hospital for her dedicated service. She was a truly a wonderful MOM and overall great person,she is missed!!

HONORABLE MENTION: Josephine Detz , who was nominated by her friend, Patty Knap

I don't know if Mommas House prefers to honor young moms as role models for your clients, but the following is an example of a beautiful mom and grandma doing great things out of love for her child and grandchild.
I've gotten to know Josephine Detz over the past two years since she called me about donating "a few things" to the Life Center in Hempstead. Her story is amazing.
About ten years ago her daughter Susan was murdered by her boyfriend because she wouldn't have an abortion. Josephine was naturally in deep grief for several years. She gradually decided she wanted to do something to honor her daughter and unborn grandson Gerard's lives, and came up with the idea of a baby shower. She invited family, friends, & parishioners of St. Catherine of Sienna parish to her home in February, the anniversary of the deaths, and everyone brought baby gifts. Each year the baby shower gets bigger, and now that Josephine has become known in the area, people call and drop by regularly about donating all sorts of things, especially baby things. Josephine has been donating cribs, strollers, car seats, diapers, cloths, play pens, maternity clothes, and more to the Life Center. I attended her annual baby shower in February and it was so beautiful, with pictures of Susan and ultrasound pictures of Gerard, Susan's favorite foods, pink & blue cupcakes, and prayer cards to St. Gerard Majella, patron saint of mothers, given out as thank you's to everyone in attendance. This effort of Josephine has become a year round effort which she now calls, "Susan's Closet.
In addition to all this great work she's doing with her heartache, Josephine and her husband are raising their granddaughter, Susan's other child, now 19.

HONORABLE MENTION: Alisa Drinkwater , who was nominated by her daughter, Mollie

Not only should my mom be awarded Mother of the Year, but she is the mother of a lifetime. She has spent the last 25 years of her life raising seven kids, 3 of hers, 3 of my dads, and one of my cousins. Her heart and her arms are always open. She’s balanced working full time, shuffling the kids from school, to practice, and lessons. She too care of the house, fed the dog, made dinner, and all the while with a smile. She never missed a game or a concert or even a chess tournament. Now that we are older, she spends her time working, taking care of her parents, and calmly addressing the frantic phone calls from college students in distress. My mom has always put her children first, and gives everything she has to give us a better life. My mom dedicates her life to helping those in need, and I hope that when the time comes, I may come close to being a mother that is a kind, generous, and loving as mine.

Special Thanks to the Judges who took on this difficult task:

Linda Mangano - Nassau County's First Lady, former editor of the Bethpage Tribune, humanitarian and advocate for important issues in Nassau County and friend and supporter of MOMMAS House.
Kate Murray - Town of Hempstead Supervisor.
Erin King Sweeney - 5th District Councilmember, Town of Hempstead.

The winning moms were awarded prizes and all nominees and winners received certificates acknowledging their outstanding fullfillment of the most important job in the world... mother.

Check out more stories of previous Mother of the Year Winners.

 
         
 

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