They saw their mothers each give selflessly over the years to make their community better. Then, as the daughters grew up, they banded together to create a lasting tribute honoring the great work of the previous generation, and ensure it would continue for generations to come. Brenda Jackson, Norma Washington and Goldie Evans-Upshaw started the Howey Hudson Lowe Foundation – named after the maiden names of each of their late mothers – powered by a small group of volunteers who tackle homelessness, promote healthy lifestyles, engage others in civic responsibility and support education in their metro Atlanta community.
“When I was growing up, my mother had a knack for helping every child she knew. People knew they could come to our house when they needed help,” Norma explains. Goldie added her own memory of her mother’s selfless giving, recalling that “My mother taught our family to share everything we had, even though we had very little. What she did has kept me grounded all my life.” Brenda had a similar experience growing up, stating “My mom always kept the door open. We didn’t have much food, but when other children came to our house hungry, we’d divide our plates in half to share.”
Embracing the values their mothers taught them, these women help connect community resources to those in need, through a network of volunteers. Professional volunteers mentor homeless families for 12 to 18 months, guiding them on strategies to seek employment, dress for success, manage finances and problem solve. In exchange for the support they get from the foundation, the people who go through this program are also required to volunteer so they can learn about community service and civic responsibility.
Each year, the foundation gives a college scholarship to one student who demonstrates a commitment to volunteer service that benefits others in the community. According to Brenda, the recipient is chosen by a committee at the college, and the criteria place volunteerism ahead of prior academic performance. In addition, the group organizes annual collections of winter clothing, blankets and luggage, which are distributed to families living on the streets. Howey Hudson Lowe also collects bicycles and toys during the holidays to give to families. Over the past decade, this volunteer organization has helped make a positive impact, providing: 50 bicycles and helmets for low-income families; 1,000+ toys for local children; counseling, housing assistance, clothing and furniture for five adopted families; toiletries for 350 homeless people, and much more.
Norma remembers the early years of establishing their foundational work, comparing their efforts to an octopus, with all eight arms working simultaneously to carry so many activities. Now, she and Goldie and Brenda see the future of this work influencing their children. In some ways, the work of the Howey Hudson Lowe foundation is like an heirloom, capable of being passed on to the next generation in these proud families for them to carry out the work of their mothers, just as their mothers’ mothers did before them.
Brenda’s daughter, Charmaine, reflects how “My mom has always raised her children to give of ourselves to help others who are less fortunate. I feel it is important to give back because we all have the ability to help someone else.” Norma’s son, Chris, agrees, stating “I am amazed to see the outcomes and results of their work. We are proud to be part of their legacy.” Goldie’s son, G.G., adds “My mother has inspired me to serve others through her own actions.”
Going the distance to help families in need and carry on the tradition of selfless giving they learned from their mothers, the team at the Howey Hudson Lowe Foundation – today’s Daily Point of Light Award honoree – stands out as a shining example of volunteer service.
The women who inspired their daughters to serve: Norma Aretha Washington Howey (1917-2000); Annie Jones Hudson (1919-2006); Dorothy Kate Lowe (1928-1996).
Know anyone in your community who’s quietly making a difference through volunteer service? Tell us so we can share their story and motivate others to help! Submit a nomination today at http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs/recognition/dpol/nomination