Services/Women's Health Institute/Woman of the Year
St. Mary's Woman of the Year: Elizabeth Williams
Nominated by Kathy Hoff
Elizabeth Williams has always enjoyed helping those in the community who don’t have a voice. So when an opportunity presented itself two years ago to work as an education and volunteer coordinator at Mother’s Refuge, a shelter for homeless teenage mothers and their infants in Independence, Mo., she jumped at the chance.
At Mother’s Refuge, Williams works with each young woman to help ensure they have access to community resources such as birth and parenting classes. She also helps them continue their education. It is a requirement that every young woman staying in the shelter must continue with education, whether it’s attending high school, community college courses or GED classes.
When Williams received a phone call one evening that Mother’s Refuge was on fire she sprung into action. The fire had destroyed the Mother’s Refuge home leaving the young women and their infants with no place to stay. “I called my husband before I even reached the shelter to tell him I was bringing them to our house for the night,” says Williams. “Everything these girls owned had been destroyed. I felt it was important for them to be surrounded by familiar faces.”
Mother’s Refuge is now operating in a temporary location and Williams hopes the organization can begin construction to rebuild the original home soon.
Williams says helping others has always been a favorite pastime for her and her husband. “We try to attend lots of fundraisers for many different organizations in the community,” she said. “We also have fun shopping for supplies such as blankets and winter coats to donate to homeless shelters and other organizations. It’s the best of both worlds because I get to go shopping and help people at the same time.”
Williams had no idea her mother, Kathy Hoff, had nominated her for St. Mary’s Woman of the Year. “After my mom found out I was chosen, she called me and just kept giggling, but wouldn’t tell me why,” she said. “Now I know. This is such an honor.”
“We are excited to honor Elizabeth for her dedication to helping young people and serving as a role model. Her story is just one of the outstanding nominations we received for Woman of the Year,” said Annette Small, CEO at St. Mary’s. “It’s clear there are many amazing women in our community who are helping to change the lives of others.”