Dispatch Article on Schumacher Awards

On Sunday, Emily Shepherd plans to give her grandmother flowers. She knows that roses and carnations are her favorites.

But it’s not just on Mother’s Day that Nary Baisden gets flowers from her 16-year-old granddaughter. Ever since Baisden’s husband died, Shepherd makes sure that Grandma gets flowers on Valentine’s Day, too, and on her wedding anniversary.

Shepherd, of Orient in Pickaway County, spends mornings in school, afternoons at work and a few nights each week with her grandmother, who lives on the South Side. She helps out with errands and chores, such as driving Baisden to get groceries, moving furniture and giving her four Chihuahuas a bath.

Her devotion to the woman she calls an inspiration will be honored on Sunday, when Shepherd and two other teenagers receive Schumacher Awards during the 11 a.m. service at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ. The awards have been a Mother’s Day tradition at the Downtown church for nearly six decades.

The awards honor central Ohio girls and young women ages 15 to 20 who show devotion to family members. The awards were established by an endowment from church member Frederick W. Schumacher, who died in 1957, in honor of his mother, Mary.

The Rev. Tim Ahrens, senior minister, said the awards are extraordinary in that they acknowledge acts of caring and love.

“It isn’t based on grades; it’s not based on school performance. It’s based on compassion and real, lived experiences of caring for family,” he said.

“We base a lot of things today on grades ... and this is ‘Have you loved deeply? Have you cared for someone deeply?’  ”

Shelly Gies, chairwoman of the church’s Frederick W. Schumacher Committee, said applicants come from churches and schools in Franklin and contiguous counties. Each of this year’s winners will receive an engraved medallion and $1,500.

Gies said this year’s winners were nominated by people at their schools.

“I think sometimes we forget to lift up youth and the great things they are doing, and it sure is a breath of fresh air to meet these girls and hear about these girls,” Gies said.

The other winners are Kelly Kimble, a senior at Bishop Watterson High School, and Natalie Houser, a Granville High School sophomore.

Kimble, 18, won the award for taking leftover food from a Panera Bread restaurant to a homeless shelter and for visiting homebound senior citizens. She started the activities a few years ago, tagging along with her mother. After her mother had surgery, Kimble took over to allow her mother to recover.

Gies said Kimble also helped her grandparents sift through the ashes to recover belongings after their house burned.

Houser, 16, has spent the past couple of years helping her younger sister, who has Lyme disease, by driving her to appointments, helping her with medications, doing her household chores, encouraging her to keep up with honors-level classes and praying for her. Gies said Houser also has raised funds for her sister through a high-school basketball game, T-shirt sales and a bake sale.

Shepherd, a Westfall High School junior, said she had started helping her grandmother before her grandfather died. She said they both have made a big impact on her and have helped her understand that she can have an impact on others.

“They’ve been my inspiration since I was little, and he still is, even though he’s not here anymore,” she said.

She said she was excited and started crying when she learned that she had won the award. Her grandmother, who will attend the Sunday service with her, had a different response.

“She was really excited, really happy for me,” Shepherd said. “Her smile was so big.”  


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