Sometimes it’s the quiet, unsung heroes whose tales must be told and celebrated. At my last gala event to raise money for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, a woman of high quality, Myra McNeil was honored with a well-deserved award. Months prior to An Extraordinary Evening, I traveled with the Social Justice Conference from Duquesne University into the shelters that I have been working with for years to obtain funding….
I recalled a a quote from my book Ordinary People Extraordinary Planet, that detailed teenager Shannon McNamara’s story about helping 8,000 people in Africa by creating libraries and providing other resources. She said during the interview…
Ordinary People Extraordinary Planet by Dr. Shellie Hipsky
“When we started SHARE, we got a list of all the needs in the community, which made people there feel like somebody was finally listening to them.” (p. 77).
Recalling those insightful words, I asked the woman who ran the Learning Center in the shelter, "If you could have any one thing for the kids what it would be?" Her eyes lit up as she exclaimed "a WiiFit." She explained that it was not safe for the kids to play outside, there was no room, they are on a busy street, and many of them are in hiding from physically abusive fathers. The WiiFit would provide hours of safe movement and entertainment. I got on my cell phone as I pulled away from the conference, found a sponsor... and in a week, Dr. Lagana and I delivered the machine to a very happy shelter teacher.
Soon the time arrived to nominate the Educator of the Year for The Robert Morris University School of Education and Social Sciences. I had already seen Myra McNiell in action in the shelters taking care of and teaching children for little monetary compensation and acclaim. We provided her two free VIP Tickets to the red carpet event which was also attended by the governor.
I was delighted to see her face as Sheldon Ingram from Channel 4 Action News team read the description about all she had done for homeless kids after obtaining her degree at Yale University...
Priceless picture of surprise by our Educator of the Year!
Myra McNeill receiving the Educator of the Year Award
Dr. Mary Ann Roth, Dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences at RMU
Dr. David Jamison, Provost Robert Morris University
Educator of the Year for RMU School of Education and Social Sciences, Myra McNeill
Myra stated in a note about our connection, "Thank you so much for making me feel so incredibly special this year. You are a blessing!" I feel from the bottom of my heart that people who live and work in the trenches with the children who have extreme needs are the true blessing to our world.
Who do you know who should be honored for their great work?
CREDITS: Event photos taken by John Colombo