BY FAITH HARPER, firstname.lastname@example.org
This year was record shattering for a Tyler-based volunteer organization.
At its annual general membership meeting Monday evening, the Junior League of Tyler celebrated raising a historic amount of money, its place in the history of Tyler and Smith County and honored members for outstanding service.
President Shannon Glenney said a total of $537,614 was raised through a combination of the Mistletoe and Magic event, Spring Sweep rummage sale, and selling cookbooks and its new children’s book “Goodnight Rose City.”
The funds will go back into the community through its Girl Power program, summer reading programs and a host of nonprofits that members voted to support.
Ms. Glenney said the boost came from the new children’s book, which former first lady Laura Bush read at an October book launch event.
The city of Tyler also honored the group for its continued service to Tyler and Smith County.
Amber Doyle, Tyler historic perseveration officer, presented the group with a prototype of a granite marker that will seal the Junior League into its Half Mile of History. The markers are part of a permanent half-mile loop that surrounds the square in downtown Tyler, and commemorate significant people, places and events in the city, according to its website.
Ms. Doyle said a formal ceremony would be held downtown to honor the organization as soon as the granite marker is completed.
The recipient of one of its highest honors, the Mahala Young Award, was kept secret leading up to the evening. Presenters said their honoree was so special that they could not give her justice, and asked their friends and members to sound off on her attributes.
One by one, each person at the meeting stood up and spoke a few prewritten words about the secret recipient.
The attributes started off vague — brave, drama-free, dedicated, social and energetic — to more specific attributes — football mom, Sunday school teacher, Aggie and Johnny Manziel fan.
Ms. Glenny cried joyous tears as she realized she was the honoree.
“Thank you very much,” the group’s president said tearfully. “I’m more than shocked right now. That’s not supposed to go to me. … I don’t know what to say. I’m so grateful for this and … this amazing year.”
Cynthia Riter also was honored for more than 30 years of service with the Gertrude Windsor Award.
Ms. Riter shared a list of things she has learned from volunteering with the group including that leaders take time to form, community service can be a lifelong and exciting adventure and that she does not regret the time she spends working with the community and lending a helping hand.
“The rewards are there, and you will be so, so glad you did,” she said.
Manshaya Thampa, a senior at Chapel Hill High School was awarded the Beverly Beaird Young Woman Scholarship.
Ms. Thampa has a long list of honors including being vice president of the school’s National Honor Society, vice president of Crime Stoppers, head editor of yearbook and officer for her class. She also is graduating with 42 hours of completed dual-credit coursework and almost 230 hours of completed volunteer hours.
She was accepted at more than 10 universities.
Ms. Thampa said it was an honor to receive the award from a distinguished group of women, and thanked her family and school counselor for help throughout her senior year, which she called “a rollercoaster of stress.”
“Receiving an honor like this is an incredible feeling and makes me feel content that all that stress did pay off,” she said. “This one scholarship (made the difference) in, ‘Am I going UT Austin or am I staying at Tyler Junior College?’ So thank you.”