Relief Society sisters lauded by Red Cross as 'heroes'

Honored as "Everyday Heroes" by the American Red Cross were Relief Society sisters in the Greater Salt Lake Area, with Relief Society General President Bonnie D. Parkin accepting the award during a banquet April 6 in Salt Lake City.

The Relief Society organizations in wards and units throughout the Salt Lake area were among several recipients of the "American Red Cross Heroes 2004" awards "whose actions underscore the humanitarian mission and values of the American Red Cross," according to a statement from the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. A quote on the plaque presented to Sister Parkin reads: "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

Seated in the audience during the awards presentation was Presiding Bishop H. David Burton. Accompanying Sister Parkin to the stand to accept the award were her counselors in the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Kathleen H. Hughes and Sister Anne C. Pingree. Also present was Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who offered the luncheon keynote address. In his comments, he said voluntarism is "hero-making," and urged those present to "identify the heroes in your lives."

They are "closer to home than you realize," he added.

During the awards presentation, a video clip was shown of each recipient and comments were offered by Mark Koelbel, anchor of KUTV, a local news station. During the presentation to the Relief Society, the video clip included not only the local humanitarian service in the Salt Lake Area, but also the part that Relief Society has in working with the American Red Cross on the African Measles Initiative. In his comments, the news anchor said: "Here in the Greater Salt Lake Area, the society carries out their mission of faith in God, charity and service to others and strengthening families in many ways, including producing activity kits for LDS Hospital, grief bags for grieving Children at the Caring Place, teaching parenting skills to young mothers, providing lap quilts and other services to the aged and assisting agencies dealing with children with material needs."

The video clip included Sister Parkin's comments about the measles initiative, with its goal to vaccinate 200 million children in up to 36 sub-Saharan African countries. In her comments, she said, "It's exciting to tell my grandchildren about these children in Ethiopia who will be well and happy because of the Church."

Also honored among award recipients during the banquet were two "Youth Heroes," Emily Howe and Daci Hughes of the Bountiful 37th Ward, Bountiful Utah North Stake. When the two, now ages 7 and 8, respectively, were 5 and 6 years old, they organized a neighborhood "Patriot Club" to do service in the community each month. Many of their friends joined their club. After the devastating tsunami in Asia earlier this year, the girls staged a neighborhood talent show and raised more than $1,500 for tsunami relief, with a portion going to the international efforts of the Red Cross and the remainder going to international relief efforts of the Church.

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