A pair of local women were honored as Winston-Salem’s “Hometown Heroes” during a luncheon last Friday at the Gateway YWCA.
YWCA Vice President of Supportive Services for Women Kristin O’Leary and Program Manager Denita Mitchell were feted for their work at the Hawley House residential substance abuse recovery program for women.
“It’s beyond words,” a visibly moved O’Leary said of receiving the honor, which was bestowed by a TCP (The Connection Place) Magazine and WIDU Gospel radio station. “It really isn’t about us; it’s about honoring God and we give Him the glory and the praise for the fact that He’s able to use us as vessels to help other women.”
Mitchell and O’Leary say they know firsthand the impact that Hawley House can have on the lives of the women they serve.
“The Hawley House gave me hope while I was there, that I could be a productive member of society and stop the process of repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results,” said Mitchell, a city native and mother of one. “Now I’m able to give back to the ladies that come to Hawley House and let them know that they can do it too.”
Francene “Dr. Fran” Hash, a TCP Magazine contributor, nominated O’Leary and Mitchell for Hometown Hero Award, which the North Carolina-based magazine and radio station also presented to everyday people in other towns and cities throughout the Southeast.
Hash, who heads her own Christian-centered motivational and self-help agency (Pathways for Life) visits Hawley House residents regularly to expound on the principles detailed in her book, “25 Principals for Finding Your Truth for Real Success and Happiness,” and encourage residents to stay on the right path.
“I can spend time with these beautiful women and teach them how to understand why they’ve been through so much pain,” said the great-grandmother of one. “You have to find your purpose and you have to master your purpose so that you can exist successfully in this life.”
TCP President Peggy Tatum said she created the award not only to honor remarkable people, but to create a movement to push others to service and good deeds.
“What we’re looking for is to bring these people together from all these different cities and let them share what they’re doing,” explained the Raleigh resident. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to share information that can help each other.”
All the Heroes are expected to attend WIDU’s 55th anniversary celebration in Fayetteville from Oct. 4-12. The event will feature gospel artists like Mary Mary and Tamela Mann and proceeds will benefit agencies that fight homelessness, according to WIDU owner Wes Cookman.
“We’d like to raise $10,000 to give to homeless ministries this year,” he said. “We’d like to see 1,000 souls come to the Kingdom of God.”
Friday’s luncheon also served as the pre-launch of the Mildred T. Hash Torch Awards, which will soon be presented to local remarkable women. Mildred T. Hash, who is affectionately known as Mother Hash, is the mother of Dr. Fran. She was by the side of her late husband (Bishop R.K. Hash) when he founded St. Peter’s Church and World Outreach Center. Today, the mega church is led by her son, Bishop James C. Hash.
“She is the spirit of what we are doing. We’re proud to be connected and for us to be able to honor her,” Cookman said of Mother Hash, whose decades of community service is well documented. “We think she is the example for the youth to live up to.”
Dr. Fran said she created the award in the hope that her mother’s lifelong devotion to God and Christian duty would inspire and motivate.
“Mother Hash – my mother – has a phenomenal story,” declared Dr. Fran, the youngest of 12 children. “You know, that’s my mama, but she’s more than my mother. She’s a living epistle. She has been a humanitarian extraordinaire.”
At 92, Hash is still going strong. She credits her faith and goodwill towards humanity as contributing factors to her longevity.
“I tell everybody if you want to be blessed, be good to people,” she told the dozens in attendance. “When you do the thing that’s right, God’s going to bless you.”
To learn more about the WIDU 2013 Celebration, visit widuanniversary.com. More about TCP Magazine can be found at www.tcpmagazine.com. Reach Dr. Fran at www.francenehash.com, 336-310-9149 or firstname.lastname@example.org.