Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

My mom recently won the Dream Catcher Award in conjunction with the CEU Children and Families Conference. I presented her, and this is what I said:

(Love you, Mom!)

It is my pleasure to introduce my Mom, Kathy Hurst, to you today. Kathy has worked, and continues to work tirelessly in many roles throughout her life. It has been difficult for me to summarize her contribution to the lives of children, because I don’t think a few words do it justice. But I’ll do my best.

Kathy is a mother and a grandma. My sisters, my children and I are her constant beneficiaries. I’m addicted to my mother, and my life is blessed in so many ways simply because of my proximity to her. I am tempted to talk for a few hours about this aspect of her life because it is so important to me and my family, but I’ll move on. Thank you, Mom, for your continued love and support and service to me and to my children.

As an employee of San Juan School District, my mom has worn many hats. She began her career as a special educator at San Juan High School, and then spent 18 years teaching English and peer coaching there. In fact, she was my ninth grade English teacher. I spent most of my childhood having my grammar corrected by her, and believe it or not I’m thankful to her for that. I actually loved having my mom as a 9th grade teacher, which says a lot about her skills in the classroom. I know she touched the lives of many students. It is not uncommon for her former students to ask me about her. I have heard many times how she inspired people to be readers, writers, and thinkers. I know she has done that for me. Thank you, Mom, for never letting me say “me and him”.

Kathy is full of energy and ideas, and she really truly can’t sit still. When she sees a problem, she figures out how to fix it. There are many examples of this. One is her weighted blanket project. My daughter and her granddaughter, Kate, has been diagnosed with autism. Many children with autism are helped by the secure feeling of weight, and there are catalogs full of very expensive products such as weighted blankets and vests for autistic children. My mom organized a group of people and selflessly spent hours purchasing fabric and creating weighted blankets for the autistic children in our school district. Thank you, mom, for caring about Kate and helping her and countless others.

As the chairman of the Blanding Rotary Club literacy committee, my mom spearheaded an effort to bring literacy into the homes of babies and families in San Juan County. I have watched her work tirelessly to secure funding from businesses and organizations to support this cause. She is currently trying to secure more funding to keep the project going. Because of her efforts, every baby born in San Juan County receives two books and important information about early literacy. In addition, the children in our County who are enrolled in the Early Intervention program are given books and information about literacy. Families all over our county have been blessed by her efforts. In many cases these books are the only books children have in their homes. Thank you, mom, for bringing the gift of reading to small children and their families in San Juan County.

Kathy has served as the San Juan School District Media Center Coordinator for nine years. During this time she has led a team of writers, translators, storytellers and illustrators in a team effort to create and publish Navajo Language materials. They have produced many books, games, posters and other Navajo language and cultural materials. These materials are not only being utilized in our school district, but are sought after by School Districts all over the country. They are beautifully written and illustrated. Great care has been taken to make sure they are culturally accurate and translated correctly. Thank you, mom, for continuing to use your creativity, drive and energy to bless to the lives of Native American children.

My mom is a very humble and private person, and she certainly has not and would not seek this or any other recognition. Thank you, Mom, for tirelessly and humbly working for the benefit of others. Despite what you may think, you deserve this award today.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Birthmother's Day

Thanks, Nan, for letting me know that tomorrow is Birthmother's Day. To the birthmothers of my babies, wherever you are, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for giving me the gift of family.