Honoring our Mothers

(from May 2002 UAlbany Updates)

Don’t know what to get Mom or that special woman in your life? Make a contribution in her honor to the new Initiatives For Women Honoring Our Mothers Fund.

The Honoring Our Mothers Fund was established to provide support for campus women balancing motherhood with the pursuit of educational and/or professional goals. IFW Chair Kathy Turek stated, “This fund is a way to celebrate the incredible women in our lives and their indomitable spirits in a very tangible way. Our new IFW Honoring Our Mothers Web page is being developed to list the fund donors, their honorees, and their stories about why they chose to honor these special women.”


The founding donors decided to create this fund as a way to demonstrate their admiration for their honorees. For example, Lorre Smith surprised her mother last month with the announcement of the fund at her mother’s 80th birthday celebration. Subsequently, both her cousin and sister added to the fund. Smith describes her mother as not only a teacher, but a lifelong learner, saying “During my childhood my mother and I spent many days having adventures of all kinds together, from hunting wild asparagus and picking persimmons to camping trips into the woods to test our survival skills. As I learn more of the story of her life, I’m beginning to understand her strength and her passion for learning of all kinds. I hope to emulate her life-long generosity and service by sharing what I have with women who undertake the challenging path of higher education.”

Founding donor Kathy Shooks recognized her mother and mother-in-law as the “two women in my life who made a significant difference, of whom I am very proud, and to whom I am very grateful for enriching my life and the life of my family.” She continued, “My mother, Elizabeth W. Heinmiller, always knew that education was the key to success. Her determination led to her obtaining both undergraduate and graduate degrees while working full time. Eventually, she became the Director of Public Health Social Work for the State of New York. However, the thing she was most proud of in her professional life was her involvement in the establishment of the School of Social Welfare here at the University. I think it is perfect for me to be able support women at the institution that meant so much to her and to honor her memory in this way.”

Shooks added, “My mother-in-law, Helen Shooks, provided our family with a most invaluable gift for many years - child care. As every working parent knows, the single most important thing you need to be able to rely on, whether you are pursuing a career or education, is dedicated, safe child care. What a gift it was for me to know that my child was happy, loved, and safe when I left in the morning to go to work. For this I am eternally grateful. It is particularly rewarding for me to be able to give back by supporting those who struggle with issues such as child care to get their education or to move ahead in their careers.”

Turek chose to honor her sister as well as her mother. “My parents moved from the Midwest to New York when I was a child. My mother left all her family and friends to build a new life and raise six children. To this day, I am in awe of her courage and dedication. My sister followed suit by moving to the other side of the country, again away from family, and faces the difficult challenge of raising an autistic child. I have such incredible admiration for her extraordinary patience and endurance that I’m very happy to have found a tangible way to express my feelings for both her and my mom.”

The founding donors of the Honoring Our Mothers Fund include IFW Steering Committee Member Bianca Carter in honor of her mother, Adeline DiBianco Sorieri; Undergraduate Dean Sue Faerman in honor of her mother, Miriam M. Faerman; School of Social Welfare Professor Emerita Shirley J. Jones in honor of her mother, Minnie Liggins Davis; Kathy Shooks in honor of her mother, Elizabeth Heinmiller, and her mother-in-law, Helen Shooks; University Libraries professional Lorre Smith in honor of her mother, Margaret Deal Smith; and IFW Chair Kathy Turek in honor of her mother, Lois Hardisty, and her sister, Marie Muckerman. IFW Award Selection Committee Co-Chair Susan Palmer reports that IFW has chosen its first Honoring Our Mothers award recipient, a returning student with four children, who will receive her award at the IFW Summer Celebration on July 11.