MMI Preparatory School students completed community service projects at nine locations throughout Greater Hazleton to honor a late MMI alumna as part of the annual Athena Ford ’01 Day of Service.
Athena Ford was a 2001 MMI graduate who passed away on October 23, 2016, as a result of complications sustained in an automobile collision where she was a seat-belted passenger and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The Athena S. Ford ’01 Endowed Fund for Community Service was established in 2017 by members of the MMI Class of 2001 as a way to honor Ford. This fund is restricted by MMI to be used solely for expenses needed to establish and perpetuate The Athena Ford ’01 Day of Service. Each year, on a designated day of service, all MMI students will volunteer in the community to accomplish service projects by grade level in Athena’s memory.
This year, students visited nine locations to perform clean up and maintenance projects under the direction of MMI faculty advisers. Sixth graders worked on the MMI fields and trails under the direction of Stella Boosalis, Anthony Cusat, Laurie Mele, Eleni Moustardas, Amanda Shonk and the MMI Maintenance Department. Seventh graders visited the Hazleton YWCA under the guidance of Patty Medvecky, Gabriela Moustardas, and Justin Vincent. Eighth graders completed projects at the Freeland YMCA and Freeland Public Park under the direction of Timothy Garvey and Kathryn Green.
Freshmen worked at the Gene della Croce Memorial Field and then the Freeland Public Park with Cheryl Bayo, Michael Scarlato, and Katherine Zucco. Sophomores attended to the Butler Township Community Garden and Freedom Park/ Valley East Little League complex under the guidance of Syra Dewar, Grete Floryshak, and Gerard Perotti. Juniors visited Country Heart Farm along with Lisa Ferry, Melissa McHale, Joanne Oakum, and Donna Titus. Seniors worked on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails along with Michael Mele, Susan Moyer, and Christina Spencer.
When the students returned to MMI they were served lunch courtesy of the MMI Parents Association and then completed follow-up activities designed for reflection on the importance of service in the community.
MMI Acting Head of School William A. Shergalis, Ph.D.,'58 said, “Athena Ford dedicated her life to serving others and was a shining example of using your time to help others during her years at MMI. This annual day of service serves as a way for the entire MMI community to both honor Athena and the work she did and teach our students how to give back to others.”
Athena Ford’s entire life was marked by sincere empathy, care, and concern for, and service to, her fellow man. While a student at MMI, she started a chapter of Amnesty International, served on the Regional Planning Board for the Mid-Atlantic Region, and initiated a Yellow Ribbon Club to prevent teen suicide. After graduating in 2007 from Kenyon College, she was a community organizer in Philadelphia for Working America. She worked tirelessly in the field of health insurance reform, first for the support and passage of the ACA with the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and then as the statewide advocacy director for the Pennsylvania Health Action Network. In addition to honoring Ford’s memory at MMI, Kenyon College has awarded her its most prestigious honor, the Kenyon Alumni Council Humanitarian Service Award, and the Keystone Research Project has permanently named their annual Citizen Activist Award after her.