Family in Washington to receive award for volunteer work
Published: August 17, 2007 | 6611th good news item since 2003
More than anything, Vicki Jay says representing a city like Midland is what humbles her most.
Midland, after all, is somewhat renowned for its volunteers and philanthropists.
Yet the fact that Jay’s name is now alongside the best and brightest in the generosity circles of this town comes as no surprise to those who know anything about the executive director of Rays of Hope, this year’s Midland honoree at the Jefferson Awards.
Jay is in the nation’s capital this week to be honored along with others receiving similar recognitions from communities nationwide.
She is being accompanied by husband Paul and daughter Julie and admits she and the family will be doing the tourist thing before and after the awards. After sightseeing and attending the Jefferson ceremonies, Jay will head off to the National Alliance for Grieving Children Conference in Atlanta, but the event in Washington has her full attention and honor this week.
“Letting my family see and hear the passion that I get to feel every day is something I’m looking forward to,” Jay said. Her biggest challenge, she says, is compressing the Rays of Hope message into a 60-second verbal presentation, a charge left with all the award winners who will be present at Monday night’s welcome dinner. Tuesday, Jay and the other winners will be treated to a black-tie U.S. Senate reception at the Senate Office Building, which will be followed by the gala awards dinner at Union Station. MyWestTexas.com will provide video of Jay’s presentation Tuesday.
“So many worthy volunteer efforts start on a local level and grow,” she said. “And that’s because they start in the heart. And so many efforts are positive and so needed. Very rarely does an effort start on the national or state level; it starts because there is a need recognized by an individual.”
Jay’s own effort to help children of Iraqi veterans who are grieving would be one example of such a growing effort; another would be Bobby Trimble’s Christmas in Action, another effort born in Midland that is now enjoying nationwide status.
Grief, Jay says, is not “picky and choosy about who it does.”
“Everybody has an understanding about grief,” said Jay, a former kindergarten teacher. “And our children are hurting. Every grieving child deserves a community to support them and our children are lucky they have that in Midland, Texas.”
Rays of Hope, a part of Hospice of Midland, provides grief counseling for children suffering loss. The program recently grew in scope and attention when, in 2006, Jay was asked to take the Rays of Hope curriculum to San Antonio and work with children who have lost a parent in the war. Word about the effort, called Operation Render Comfort, was broadcast on the national news and Jay has received calls from across the country, as well as from Germany and Japan all seeking advice on helping children cope with grief and loss.
The Jefferson Awards for Public Service were created in 1972 by former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Sen. Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard. The mission of the awards is to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.