National Mother of the Year named
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Eight years ago Dianne Callister was asked to perform a musical number at the Salvation Army Hospital near her home in California. It was Mother's Day, and she was performing on her harp to some expectant mothers, many of whom were in their teens.
As she was playing, she began to think of the many blessings in her life. She was born in that hospital. She was one of the babies placed in foster care and then was placed through adoption in a nice home with a loving family.
As she played, something changed in her that day.
"I realized I was given the blessing of the gift of life," Sister Callister said. "I had a foster mother who put love and care into me. I realized my obligation to give back as much as I can in my life."
Since that Mother's Day at the Salvation Army Hospital, Sister Callister has been involved in many community outreach programs involved with children's causes, in addition to her responsibilities as a mother of four and grandmother to one.
Her service and good works helped her to earn the recognition as California's state representative, as well as the national title of "Mother of the Year," given by the American Mothers, Inc.
"My realizing that if I hadn't had the opportunities and love and people that cared about me, I wouldn't have been able to have the wonderful life I have had," she said.
It is through the work of mothers, Sister Callister said, that change is going to take place.
"We need compassion, to teach compassion, compassion in the homes and the schools. That is a huge part of what is going to change the world," she said. "And mothers are going to make the difference."
Motherhood is the ultimate career for women, and as mothers teach their children moral values their homes will be strengthened, she said.
"The most important thing [mothers] are doing are within the walls of their own home," Sister Callister said. "Compassion, love, service, all begin at home. It doesn't matter how busy we are, that should be our No. 1 priority. ... There is always something you can give back. Motherhood is a lifelong pursuit. I hope that once [mothers have] raised their children, they go out and help another child."
Whether it is helping a child who lives down the street with reading, teaching seminary or getting involved in the local schools, Sister Callister said there are great resources and energy that could be used for good if individuals choose to get involved.
With her husband, Stephen, currently serving as bishop and her own calling of teaching early-morning seminary, Sister Callister knows what it is like to be busy. Sister Callister said regardless of how busy her schedule may be, she can know how to help her family most effectively by going to the Lord for answers.
"If my heart is open, He will guide me," she said. "Those promptings come the more you act on them. Take one day at a time, go with the direction for that day and the Lord will kindly guide you through trials, challenges and whatever you have to go through."
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the American Mothers, Inc., an interfaith, nonprofit organization that recognizes and promotes the important role of motherhood in society. The organization focuses on involvement in educational programs and community outreach and chooses two representatives — one Mother of the Year and one Young Mother of the Year — from each state.
Sister Callister was chosen as the state representative for California, and later as the national Mother of the Year during the annual conference that was held in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on May 1. The location is where the first award was given in 1935 to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt.
"I feel honored to promote our values and be a voice for traditional values," Sister Callister said. "I hope to be able to carry the responsibility wisely and promote the good values that we stand for."
LDS mothers throuhout the United States were honored by the American Mothers, Inc. celebration of motherhood.
2010 Mother of the Year state representatives:
Alaska: Laurel Pfanmiller-Azegami
Arizona: Carol Ray Soelberg
California: Dianne Callister
Hawaii: Cathy Smith Wong
Idaho: Delores Birch
Nevada: Patrice Tew
New Hampshire: Valerie M. Earnshaw
New York: Barbara Hennessey
Oregon: Shelly Leann Brady
Utah: Shirley Kay Tong
Washington: Lynne West
West Virginia: Susan M. Larsen
2010 Young Mother of the Year state representatives:
Alaska: Brenda Noble
Arizona: Alyson Dale
California: Sara Dawn Mayer
Hawaii: Julianne Maertens Hallstrom
Illinois: Roberta (Bobbi) Goettler
Nevada: Laurel Beckstead
New York: Lorinda Goff Belnap
Oregon: Alison Layton Wadsworth
Pennsylvania: Jean Geherin
Utah: Shauna Bird Dunn
Washington: Rachel Borders