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Mary Burns Michael: selected 2006 Outstanding Auxiliary Member.

Mary Burns Michael, Auxiliary Unit 128, San Antonio, Texas, has been selected to receive the Past National Commanders' Outstanding Auxiliary Member of the Year Award for 2006. The highest individual Auxiliary award will be presented to her at the opening session of the National Convention in Chicago on Aug. 12.

"An Auxiliary member for less than six years, Mary Burns Michael has impacted positively on the lives of disabled veterans and their families in a big way," Auxiliary National Commander Judy M. Steinhouse said. "Mary is a shining example of how much can be accomplished by a dedicated Auxiliary member in a short time. It is certainly a privilege to recognize her as our 2006 Outstanding Auxiliary Member of the Year."

The Auxiliary Past National Commanders' Outstanding Auxiliary Member of the Year Award recognizes the dedication and contributions made by an outstanding Auxiliary member to enhance Auxiliary and DAV goals and promote community service. Mary certainly epitomizes all of these things and so much more."

Mary's Auxiliary membership eligibility is through her husband Curtis Michael, a retired senior master sergeant and disabled veteran who served in the Air Force 24 years, and had a 20-year civil service career as well. He also earned a doctorate at the American International Bible Institute and Seminary and currently serves as an Associate Minister at the Grace First Baptist Church in San Antonio.

Mary and Curtis were wed on Aug. 8, 1954. They celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary four days before the start of the National Convention in Chicago.

Minnie L. Boggs, Commander of Unit 128, sponsored Mary for the award. She knew Mary before she became an Auxiliary member and has long been impressed with Mary's dedication and leadership.

"Mary is our Unit Chaplain," Commander Boggs said. "She has always been active in her community and church, and since joining our Unit she has been a real asset introducing new ideas to help improve the Unit.

"Whatever Mary does, she gives it her all. Wherever she is, you know she is there by the work she accomplishes."

In addition to serving as Unit Chaplain, Mary is also Community Service Chairman for her Unit and is the newly elected Commander for District 5 in the Department.

As Unit Chaplain, Mary works diligently to contact absent, ill and bereaved members to minister to their needs. She also visits patients in hospitals regularly, and as Unit Community Service Chairperson instituted the "Baskets of Joy" program at the Audie Murphy and Kerrville VA medical centers in the South Texas VA Health Care System. "Baskets of Joy" provides items of health and comfort to patients. A list of items sought was provided by the medical centers. Items included toiletries, socks, moist wipes and other things to make the hospital stay easier for veterans. Items are placed in large, decorated baskets and given to the patients.

"I call them "Baskets of Joy" because of the looks on the faces of the patients who receive them," Mary said.

"Baskets of Joy" are made possible in coordination with Mary's church, Grace First Baptist Church, and through support from Chapter and Unit 128.

Mary has also collected and donated new underwear, T-shirts, pants and shirts for homeless veterans; collected clothing for Hurricane Katrina evacuees and prepared health and comfort baskets for the Baptist Children's Home of San Antonio. She is active in her church, serving as a Bible Study Teacher and Sunday School Teacher, and conducted a POW/MIA table setting for the Veterans Day program at her church.

In her Unit she participates in "Forget-Me-Not" drives, helps with Thanksgiving dinner for members and guests, distributes information at her local Golden Corral Restaurant on "Military Appreciation Monday" and provides transportation for shopping and attending church to a local veteran.

Just when you might think she is as involved as she can be, Mary jumps in and does more. She is President of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., River City Chapter, a group that beautified a nursing home and two elementary schools with live plants; honored senior citizens with dinner and plaques and assisted graduating teenagers with scholarship information and leadership seminars.

Mary served 35 years as a classroom teacher. She retired in 1992. Teaching and students remain a part of Mary's life. She is a life member of the PTA and honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma. During her career she was nominated for many awards, including the Trinity Prize for excellence in teaching. She received the Shining Star Award, Mentoring Award and Black Achievement Award in Education.

When she retired from teaching, the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio named an elementary school in her honor. Mary returns to the Mary Burns Michael Elementary School where she is a storyteller and serves in various advisory capacities. As an Auxiliary member, she also helped donate 100 small flags, as well as the U.S. flag and Texas state flag to be flown on the school flagpole.

Mary is the published author of Through the Eyes of the Storyteller, an autobiography.

She is also active in collecting donations to support the American Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Associations.

"My cousin, Minnie Boggs, was an Auxiliary State Commander for Texas, and she kept after me to join, and I finally did," Mary said. "I had not been in the Unit very long, just over five years. So you can imagine how shocked I was to learn I had been selected for this award. I was elated and very joyful.

"I am a member of the Auxiliary for many reasons--for the camaraderie, the need for people to help in the Unit and the help the Unit provides to those in need, and for my husband. What better way to tell him I appreciate him and the organization in which he is a life member?

"The best part of being an Auxiliary member is the giving part--the part where I can channel my energies to help other people.

"I am blessed. I have a school named in my honor; I have an artificial knee that enables me to walk; I am a cancer survivor. I am blessed. Giving back to others is my way of saying, 'Thank you.'"

Mary Burns Michael, a woman blessed, is the Outstanding Auxiliary Member of the Year for 2006.

Mary Burns Michael, Auxiliary Unit 128, San Antonio, Tex. Was nominated by Minnie L. Boggs, Commander of the Unit.
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Author:Hall, Jim
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:1067
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