Dr. Ann Weiss, a member of the MCH Board of Directors, was selected as Board Member of the Year and Julie Diem, MCH benefactor, was selected as Philanthropist of the Year. In addition, Ashley Burris, a former resident at MCH, was named Student of the Year. The three were recognized on April 26 at the annual CORE Residential Excellence conference held in Washington, D.C.
Ashley, a former resident of the Waco campus, graduated in May 2015 from Rapoport Academy. She came to MCH at the age of 13 after going through some family struggles with her mother. Ashley was recognized for her growth and leadership through MCH’s programs. Ashley’s accomplishments were described below in excerpts from her nomination:
Ashley exemplifies the Methodist Children’s Home core values through her strong connections with the MCH staff and students. She is always willing to meet and exceed expectations and focuses on her goals despite many obstacles she has encountered along the way. Ashley is focused on the future and utilizes all the opportunities available to her including but not limited to educational, volunteer services, and spiritual. Ashley is involved in many campus activities as an intern with the MCH Student Events Coordinator. Ashley completes volunteer services for her school and within the unit. She sets an example for her peers by the way she successfully maintained and worked the Steps to Success program and achieved the highest step possible in the MCH Program.
Ashley is a role model to her peers in that they turn to her for advice and guidance. The youth relate to Ashley’s initial struggle and anger when arriving at MCH. They view her motivation to refocus as a beacon of hope that they could do the same thing. Ashley is recognized by her peers for her positive attitude and cheerful smile. Ashley is admired for her ability to recognize the consequences of her actions and drive to be successful. She is able to do all of that with a smile on her face and positive words.
Julie Diem became a strong supporter of MCH after the tragic deaths of her daughter and grandsons. Diem found a way to honor her loved ones through MCH, a ministry that was close to the heart of her daughter. In 2015, Diem endowed a scholarship in her daughter’s name to honor her legacy. Her generosity and dedication is described in excerpts from her nomination below:
Julie's story is heart-wrenching and her resiliency has touched many. The power of her testimony brought new supporters to our organization and educated many on the wonderful opportunities available through our services, specifically our residential program.
Diem contacted MCH in 2015 and decided to start the “Elizabeth Dowdy Scholarship.” Diem wanted to create a scholarship that would help girls from our residential program who had dreams similar to those of her daughter. Diem started raising funds for the scholarship by selling special wreaths which she began making as a way to honor her daughter and grandsons.
The response of her effort was amazing. In less than eight months, proceeds from the wreath sales, and contributions from others impacting by the story, produced more than $25,000 for the scholarship! The Diems then decided to start a second scholarship fundraising effort to create a named fund for their grandsons.
It is inspiring to see someone turn a great loss into something that will bless others. Julie is a powerful example of how these scholarship gifts can impact our young people as well as how one person can bless so many others. Many more people are aware of MCH because of Julie’s advocacy and so many have found encouragement during tough times because of her influence.
Dr. Ann Weiss has been an advocate for MCH for more than 30 years. In that time she has held numerous leadership roles as a board member, volunteer and benefactor. Dr. Weiss’s commitment and service was described in excerpts from her nomination:
Dr. Weiss offers her insights as an educator to help ensure MCH uses its resources for the highest and best use for the children in our care. Dr. Weiss has served on numerous boards and leadership councils. She is eager to use those connections to link likeminded organizations in order to produce the most good. Her advocacy for MCH has brought trauma-informed care and the importance of the residential service model to leadership through the United Methodist Church and our service areas.
Dr. Weiss has a voice and she lends it to our program. Her support of our emphasis on trauma-informed care has opened the eyes and ears of others to understand about the challenges facing the young people in our communities and this innovative approach to serving them. Her voice is strong in support of our program but also used in a way to help ensure MCH is aware of the complex issues that may be encountered as we seek to achieve our goals.
Many of the accomplishments achieved by MCH are a result of the generosity of our supporters, many of those who were brought to MCH and encouraged by the leadership of Dr. Weiss.
Dr. Weiss connects with individuals in an authentic way. Although highly educated, she can articulate the intricacies of our program in a way that can be understood by those who care about our children and mission. Dr. Weiss is a “natural nurturer” and shows a high level of dedication to sharing the MCH story but also mentoring young leaders. Her position on the Board was more than a title; it was a way to carry out her true passion which is providing for the wellbeing of children. She is respected by her peers and youth for her ability to be lead, encourage and inspire.
Congratulations to our Coalition of Residential Excellence award winners!