International Mother’s Day Shrine will be open 1-4 p.m. on Mother’s Day

GRAFTON—Happy Mother’s Day. What better way to observe the day or pay respect to its founder than to stop in for a tour of where Mother’s Day began? The International Mother’s Day Shrine at 11 East Main Street in downtown Grafton will be open from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 8.

Those who stop in can see the Sunday School room where Anna Reeves Jarvis called for someone, somewhere, sometime to establish a day honoring mothers. You can see the small Sunday School chair that daughter Anna was sitting in when her mom taught this lesson on “Mothers of the Bible.” You can view historical photos of Grafton, some from the late 1800s and early 1900s when Mother’s Day was established. You can climb the stairs to the second-floor sanctuary and sit on the original church pews that Anna, her sister, and mom used over the years they worshipped here.

You can sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine what it would have been like to have been here when 407 attended the first official observance of Mother’s Day. You can enjoy the sound of musical selections being played on the Shrine’s pipe organ. You can experience the beauty of sunshine refracted as it shines through multi-colored pieces of stained glass that make up 15 beautiful and large stained-glass windows surrounding the former church sanctuary. Nine of these windows have recently been fully restored by Williams Stained Glass of Pittsburgh. You can view large wall murals of Bible scenes that were painted by a local artist who started in the late 1800s and put the finishing brush strokes on the last mural in the early 1930s.

Victoria L. Hoffman named International Mother’s Day Shrine 2022 “Mother of the Year”

By Marvin Gelhausen

Chair, IMDS Board of Trustees

GRAFTON—Happy Mother’s Day. What better way to observe the day or pay respect to its founder than to stop in for a tour of where Mother’s Day began? The International Mother’s Day Shrine at 11 East Main Street in downtown Grafton will be open from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 8.

In reviewing annual nominations, the Shrine Board looks for candidates who exemplify the various characteristics of motherhood. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the term “Mother” is defined as: “A mother is the female parent of a child. Mothers are women who inhabit or perform the role of bearing some relation to their children, who may or may not be their biological offspring.”

Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, listed her mother, Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, as the first honored mother. Therefore, the Shrine Board looks for candidates who in their own way are role models of the example of motherhood established by Anna Reeves Jarvis. The West Virginia Encyclopedia states that Mrs. Jarvis organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs which raised money to buy medicine for needy families and cared for families stricken by tuberculosis. Club members worked with local physicians to obtain clean water supplies and safe sewage disposal. These efforts came out of the depths of Mrs. Jarvis’ own loses in that only four of her 12 children survived to adulthood. She organized her Mother’s Day Work Clubs as part of her commitment to eradicating the unsanitary living conditions that often-spread deadly diseases, especially among the children of the community.

 

 

Victoria Hoffman, 2022 “Mother of the Year” likewise is devoting her life to meeting the basic needs of children of the Grafton and Taylor County community, as well as surrounding communities. Victoria, her husband Mike, and their four biological children since August 2015 have opened their home and life as foster care providers. The Hoffman children range in age from 14 to 21.

Victoria was raised in Grafton. She is a 1991 graduate of Grafton High School. She has a degree in early childhood education. She says, “I love working with children. I have taught in school settings prior to having children. Since having children, I have owned and operated an in-home daycare center that provided a preschool program.” She adds, “I now am an online English teacher and I’ve taught over 9,200 classes.”

Her husband, Michael Hoffman, was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, He works as a rural postal carrier. They met in Cincinnati, Ohio. Victoria says, “Mike owned a gymnastics training facility where he had adult classes.” She explains, “I had attended those classes and the rest is history.” The couple were married on August 14, 1999.

“We felt led to provide foster care to children who needed the consistency of a safe and loving environment,” notes Victoria. She says, “We started that journey in August of 2015 and completed certification in October 2015.” Since that time, she says, “We have provided long and short-term care to over 15 children.” She adds, “We also help with respite care as needed.” The Hoffman’s are currently caring for two foster children from surrounding counties.

These experiences have changed the lives of the Hoffman family. Victoria notes, “Through this journey, we were blessed to adopt three children who had been in our care.” Victoria is a second generation foster care provider as her parents, Robert and Mary Moore, also provided foster care. Their journey consisted of helping over 30 children and they were blessed to adopt one child. Victoria says, “I do feel my parents’ model of caring for children attributed to my love for caring for children as well.”

Victoria, like most of the Shrine’s “Mother of the Year” honorees, was a bit reluctant to accept nomination and did not seek to bring attention to herself. However, her primary reason for accepting nomination is she could see this would give her an opportunity, a platform, from which to educate the community about the needs of foster care and to encourage others to share in her passion to be of help to children in need.

It is the court system that determines if a child being placed in foster care is merited. The courts do not take the decision lightly to separate a family. However, when the court determines that it is in the best interest of a child, or of siblings from a family, to be placed in foster care—then the process begins with the main focus on helping a child or children remain safe and cared for in a stable environment.

In her efforts to promote foster care and enlist additional care providers, Victoria frequently hears many people say they could never do foster care. One of the main concerns is that “it would be too hard.” Victoria’s response is, “Foster care is not about you. It is about being there for the children and their families while their parents work through issues to again care for their children.”

Victoria explains that the process for becoming a foster family provider entails “pride classes, background checks, and continuing yearly education.” She says many agencies provide classes that can be completed in a weekend or during evening sessions. Victoria stresses that, “The demand for adults and families who are able to assist children in a foster care setting is not decreasing.” She adds, “School age children and sibling groups seem to have a higher need lately.”

How can you get additional information if you think you may be able to help fill the foster care need? Victoria says she and her husband work with a company called Blueprints. However, Taylor County has an agency, Burlington United Methodist Family Services Inc., and Victoria notes that, “A simple phone call would provide anyone with information. Burlington can be contacted by calling 304-265-1338 or their website is: https://bumfs.org/

Victoria believes key traits needed to provide foster care are, “patience, love, consistency, selflessness, a willingness to learn about how to help a child or children in meeting their needs.” Victoria notes that most characteristics of foster care children are the same or similar to children in general. However, she says care providers need to realize and remember that “trauma is usually an issue with those entering foster care.” She says, “trauma does not get resolved overnight. With any person or child who has been exposed to trauma, they have a trigger that can set them back. Sometimes you are not sure what that trigger is. It could be a smell, a sound, a place. But you are given training and your agency and worker establish a support network for you. I have had such wonderful workers to help us through certain situations.” She adds, “Establishing trust is also a work in progress.”  She concludes, “The more trust that is established, the more they are apt to respond to the loving, consistent and safe home that you are providing.”

Bringing foster care children in does change the dynamic of the home. Victoria says, “My children, both biological and adopted, have known nothing else in regard to so many children in our home.” She says, “They have learned that they get to take turns and it is not always the spotlight or focus on them.” She continues by explaining, “It is a balance to be able to support the child and their parents in the process. I am the parents’ cheerleader when they meet the requirements needed for reunification. But also, as a foster parent, I advocate for the child’s best interest as well. We have had some harder situations, but in the end, we are happy that the family could stay together.

Victoria notes, “There’s a lot of times where your foster child needs more of your time or energy and sometimes your family plans are changed or put on hold to help them.” But, she adds, “it seems to balance out in the end.” She concludes, “I would not change the fact that I have been a foster parent.”

Others can still help children in foster care without becoming a foster family. She notes, “There is something called respite care that still requires some certification classes, but this enables those trained to be able to help families if the need arises on a short-term basis, such as a weekend timeframe.” Or it can be as simple as seeing a need and stepping in to meet that need. For example, Victoria says with “our family having nine children and 11 people in the home—we typically have at least one birthday every month and this week we have two birthdays in one week—that is a lot of cake!”

It has been educational and learning for her biological children as well. Although young themselves, they have already dealt with and learned to handle most any challenge or day to day task that comes with having and caring for young children in the home. Victoria says, “They have changed more diapers than some adults I know.” All part of being a large, caring, and functional family. One which faces the day-to-day experiences all families encounter. Also, one that has opened the door of the family home to meeting the needs of foster care children.

We congratulate Victoria on being named the International Mother Day Shrine’s 2022 “Mother of the Year.” With foster care being so important to who she is, Victoria says, “My little efforts have made a huge difference in others’ lives. In turn, I have grown as a person.” She concludes, “Without foster care, I would not have been able to add three children to our family—and I cannot imagine life without them now.”

You can sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine what it would have been like to have been here when 407 attended the first official observance of Mother’s Day. You can enjoy the sound of musical selections being played on the Shrine’s pipe organ. You can experience the beauty of sunshine refracted as it shines through multi-colored pieces of stained glass that make up 15 beautiful and large stained-glass windows surrounding the former church sanctuary. Nine of these windows have recently been fully restored by Williams Stained Glass of Pittsburgh. You can view large wall murals of Bible scenes that were painted by a local artist who started in the late 1800s and put the finishing brush strokes on the last mural in the early 1930s.

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The Hoffman FamilyShown seated above, from the left are Anna, Makenna, Ben, and Bethany is sitting on Victoria’s lap. Standing from the left are Will, Michael, Josh, and Shelly. The Hoffman family is also currently providing care for two foster children who are not pictured. Victoria has been named the International Mother’s Day Shrine’s 2022 “Mother of the Year.” The National Historic Landmark Shrine at 11 East Main Street in Grafton’s downtown historic district is where Mother’s Day began. Founder Anna Jarvis grew up in Grafton and devoted her adult life to establishing Mother’s Day and then fighting to have it observed according to her outlined directives.

Mother’s Day began in Grafton, the childhood home of Anna Jarvis

By Marvin Gelhausen

Chair, IMDS Board of Trustees

GRAFTON —It is Mother’s Day weekend 2022, and Grafton is the place to be. Here is where Mother’s Day began. Grafton is the childhood home of Mother’s Day Founder Anna Jarvis. From the early months of her life up into her 30s, Anna and the Jarvis family called Grafton home.

After the death of her father, Granville Jarvis on Dec. 31, 1902, Mrs. Jarvis, and her daughter Lillian moved to Philadelphia to be with daughter Anna and her brother, Claude, who owned and operated a successful taxicab business in the city. Sorrow visited the family again on May 9, 1905, when Mrs. Jarvis died.

Standing at the foot of her mother’s grave, Anna recalled their little church along Main Street in Grafton. It was here when she was 12 that her mother ended a Sunday School class about “Mothers of the Bible” with a call for someone, sometime, somewhere to establish a day honoring mothers. Anna said her mom’s wish burned into her conscience and she could not forget it. Standing beside her mom’s grave, Anna pledged to be the someone who would fulfill her mom’s wish. In fact, she would devote the rest of her life first to establishing Mother’s Day, then fighting to try and keep it as the observance she envisioned and finally expressing sadness that the day had become commercialized and was not the quaint family together holiday she wanted it to be. Anna died November 24, 1948.

The first step she took toward establishing Mother’s Day was to have her and her mom’s hometown Grafton church host a memorial service for Mrs. Jarvis on May 13, 1906. On May 12, 1907, her hometown church hosted an unofficial trial run Mother’s Day program. By May 10, 1908, a Mother’s Day Committee was functioning and a well-planned and official first Mother’s Day was observed in Grafton. Anna planned and organized these first three programs and specifically selected Grafton as the host city. She was fulfilling her mom’s wish and she selected their home church where mother and daughter had wonderful memories, where Mrs. Jarvis had been a Sunday School teacher in the primary department for 25 plus years.

After the first Mother’s Day, Anna began writing every state governor across the United States asking each state to pass a resolution making the second Sunday in May an observance of “Mother’s Day.” Anna selected this day as it was closest to the date her mom had died. She selected the white carnation as the official emblem of Mother’s Day because it was her mother’s favorite flower.

In just less than a decade, Anna completed her pledge. The US Congress on May 8, 1914, passed a joint resolution authorizing the President to recognize the second Sunday each May as Mother’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation on May 9 officially establishing Mother’s Day across the US.

If you research Mother’s Day, you will find that there were others prior to Mrs. Jarvis who also called for establishment of a day honoring mothers. There were various communities that had a one-time observance or even observed some form of a Mother’s Day for several years. The reason Anna Jarvis is proclaimed the official founder of Mother’s Day is because she did what none of the others did. The efforts of Anna Jarvis put Mother’s Day on the calendar. Her efforts resulted in a Joint Resolution of the US Congress and a signed Presidential Proclamation officially establishing the second Sunday of each May as Mother’s Day.

The roots of the observance are tied to the remarkable historic life of Anna reeves Jarvis, the first honored mother. The roots tightly wrap around the devotion of daughter Anna and her courage and determination to fulfill her mom’s wish and giver her mom Mother’s Day. This annual observance has spread internationally, although some countries observe a different date, or their observances have little in common with the traditional USA observance. But of significance to West Virginia, and especially to the Grafton and Taylor County community is that Mother’s Day began in Grafton. The drive to establish Mother’s Day was influenced by the childhood Anna Jarvis had walking along the sidewalks and streets of the railroad hub of Grafton in the late 1800s. When it came Anna’s turn to step onto the public stage, she did not forget her childhood home of Grafton nor the hometown church she and her mom had worshipped at. The seed for creating Mother’s Day was planted in her mind as a 12-year-old sitting in a Sunday School class at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton. At 41-years of age she lost her mother but pledged to memorialize her by being the one to establish a day honoring mothers. Now, in 2022, we observe the 114th annual Mother’s Day and it all began in Grafton.

In 1962, a nonprofit was chartered to secure ownership of what would be the former Andrews church after the congregation moved out at the end of 1966. The International Mother’s Day Shrine was chartered to be a shrine to all mothers everywhere and to be a memorial facility to Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother’s Day and to her mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, the first honored mother.