What if what you loved most was taken away from you… Would you give up? Or fight to take it back?
Irene is a 72-year-old poet who can no longer write down her beautiful stanzas. Due to Parkinson’s disease, her steady hand quivers to the point where her powerful words are mere scribbles on the page. Poetry was Irene’s escape from hardship and sadness. The South Carolina native eagerly listened to her brother recite the words of great literary minds like Robert Frost. She studied the written and spoken word and its power to transform anyone. Irene dedicated her life to breathing life into written word for future generations in low income areas of her home state.
The loss of her ability to write comes at an important time for Irene. Her alma mater, The Mather School, is celebrating 150 years since its founding. Her dream is to commemorate her alma mater with a heartfelt poem that encapsulates its influence on her life.
The Mather School was created by Boston’s Rachael Mathers for the daughters of liberated slaves in the late 1860s. This school boosted literacy rates and instilled a sense of empowerment and independence in African American women. Irene is proud to be among those brave, intelligent alumnae. Through it all, she remembers her three biggest passions: children, family and faith.
“My passion is education and helping those earn their potential,” she proclaimed.
Mrs. Mather created the Mather School in 1868 to educate the daughters of liberated slaves. She believed that everyone deserved to get a good education. She acted on her belief and began to teach and raise funds for a women’s dormitory. In 1901, the Mather School graduated its first three students from elementary school. In 1932, the Mather School high school program was approved by the South Carolina State Department of Education as Mather Industrial School.
Irene’s guidance helped many young students who may have otherwise been tossed to the wayside by less dedicated adults. Her extensive career as a teacher and mentor for teens struggling to learn in tough areas of the south. She used her studies to empower her community and make the world better for others. These children were reminiscent of Rachel Mathers’ students as they were all but ignored by other people in the area.
The similarities are uncanny and proof that when someone takes an interest in youth, they thrive.
Irene’s own children were raised knowing that they were valued, intelligent people who could overcome turmoil with education and perseverance. She showed them that no opportunity was off limits when you have a passion and strong values.
The dedicated caretaker was a force for creating healthy, happy generations that continues with her grandchildren today.
“I want to create and record memories, express feelings and share my dreams. I want to share my love of words; their power to heal, inspire and connect people,” she said.
Wish granted on February 22, 2018 and sponsored by Essity + Brookdale Senior Living.
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