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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Elaine Hess receives ‘Freedom From Selfishness’ Award



ASHLAND –The Women’s Fund of Ashland County Community Foundation recently honored Elaine Hess as the recipient of the 2023 Dr. Lucille G. Ford “Freedom from Selfishness” Award.


Established in 2013 and named for Ashland County Community Foundation’s founding president, Dr. Lucille Ford, this prestigious annual award recognizes women who have shown a long-standing commitment to philanthropy in Ashland County. The award was presented at an October 23 reception with dozens of Hess’s friends, family members and colleagues in attendance.


Dr. Ford defines philanthropy as “freedom from selfishness,” and she has exemplified that definition throughout her life. Only one recipient is chosen each year, and each award recipient has given time, talent or resources to improve the lives of others and the community as a whole.


A retired teacher, Elaine is the co-founder and director of the Ashland County Honor Bus, a program that helps local veterans visit Washington, D.C. to see their war memorials for the first time. High School students accompany the veterans to provide practical assistance and learn about history. Hess goes above and beyond to help make the trip meaningful and memorable for students and veterans alike.


She is also a member of Southview Grace Brethren Church, where she leads the children’s ministry and orchestrates Vacation Bible School. Additionally, she directs the popular Wifflefest tournament, held annually at the church.


“If honor, time and compassion were currency, then Elaine has invested more into our community than anyone I know,” Joel Zook, lead pastor at Southview Grace Brethren Church, said in a letter of support that accompanied Hess’s nomination by Katie Brown.


He continued, “But most of all, she does it with a joyful smile and a heart of compassion because what matters most to her is making a difference in the lives of others.”


Arica Betson, a friend and mentee of Elaine and a successful business owner, credits Elaine as one of her most trusted advisors.


“Elaine sees and speaks to who and what you can be, not who you currently are,” Betson said. “Elaine spoke to the leader and possibilities in me before I knew they were there.”


Elaine has been inducted into Ashland County Woman of Achievement, and she has served on the board for that organization.


Dr. JoAnn Ford Watson read remarks on behalf of her mother, Dr. Ford, who was unable to attend the award ceremony.


“Elaine, you exemplify a life in service, for others, for God, our community, and for our nation,” she said. “Congratulations. Well done. God bless you.”


Hess shared reflections on selflessness, saying her heart for serving others was shaped by her family, her former students and her faith.


“God has blessed me with so many opportunities to just serve him,” Hess said.


Referencing a Bible verse from 1 Peter Chapter 4, Hess said her desire is to glorify God as good steward of His grace.


Hess also praised Dr. Ford for envisioning the Women’s Fund, and, with the help of other local women, bringing the dream to fruition.


“I’m thankful for women like Dr. Lucille Ford with vision for an Ashland community of women who celebrate each other and the Ashland community,” she said.


Nominees for the Dr. Lucille G. Ford “Freedom from Selfishness” Award must be current residents of Ashland County and must have lived in the county for at least the past 20 years. Award recipients are selected by a committee of the Women’s Fund of Richland County Foundation.


Past award recipients include Nancy T. Davis (2014), Janet L. Archer (2015), Nancy E. Kopp (2016), Ann J. Miller (2017), Dr. JoAnn Ford Watson (2018), Diana S. Brechbuhler (2019), Dr. Julia Wright (2020), Lori Gottfried (2021) and Norma Wygant (2022).


About Ashland County Community Foundation: Ashland County Community Foundation advances philanthropy and improves the quality of life in Ashland County by connecting people who care with causes that matter. ACCF has awarded over $27 million in scholarships, grants and distributions.

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