JAMES ISLAND—Church of the Nativity is breathing new life, and purpose, into an old award.
Marian Hoffman, vice president of the church’s ladies guild, said they recently revamped the parish stewardship award, which had been given out sporadically in the past.
Officially dubbed the Woman of the Year Stewardship Award for service to family, church and community, it is named after the late Josephine “Jo” Dennis.
Dennis won the woman of the year award for the Charleston Deanery in her time and is remembered as a role model for all, Hoffman said.
“People admired her so much for everything she did,” Hoffman said, including raising her large family as a single parent after her husband died, and being the first person to volunteer “no matter what was happening.”
Hoffman said the guild wants to begin an annual tradition of recognizing women like Dennis, who give so much of themselves to others.
In May, they announced the selection of Rachel Villeponteaux as the first recipient. “[Rachel is] the first person there and the last person to leave — every event,” Hoffman said. “She just shows up and says ‘What do you need me to do?’”
Father Thomas Kingsley, pastor, said he was happy to see Villeponteaux receive the award.
“Rachel is an outstanding choice. She’s always been one of those parishioners I knew I could count on,” he said, adding that no matter what the event, she would roll up her sleeves and get the work done.
Father Kingsley also praised Rachel’s strong Catholic faith, noting that she’s a wonderful mix of Martha and Mary.
Hoffman said even with social distancing in effect since the pandemic hit in mid-March, the ladies guild and the parish as a whole have still been actively engaged and pro-active in creating new projects and missions. They continue to volunteer and gather supplies for the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center, and the sewing guild meets — in person and via Zoom — to create items such as bibs, tote bags and “Adopt Me” vests for Pet Helpers.
One of the specialty projects the guild has taken on are padded seat belt covers, which are made specifically as port protectors for people with cancer. Hoffman said the seatbelt can be painful during drives to and from chemotherapy and radiation appointments.
The newest project on the horizon is to make Superhero capes for children who are fighting long-term illness, or struggling with other issues.