Kim Tucker, founder of the I.C. White Stone Foundation which serves to empower single mothers in East Nashville with entrepreneurial skills, was awarded the 2011 Mary Morris Award for Exemplary Service to Society by Lipscomb University on Thursday, April 14.
|(l to r) Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry, awardee Kim Tucker and Lipscomb professor Jonh Conger, who nominated Tucker.
The Mary Morris Award was established to honor another outstanding servant to humanity who died of cancer at age 36 in September 2005. Morris was an associate professor of education and founder of the Center for Character Development at Lipscomb University, which promoted the Character Counts! program in schools, businesses and organizations throughout the city.
Tucker, a Nashville resident has worked in Nashville’s juvenile justice system and the Department of Children Services. A 2003 graduate of Lipscomb’s family relations program, Tucker established the I.C. White Stone Foundation in 2003 to provide the support single mothers need to rise above poverty and dependence on public assistance.
“Receiving this award is one of those exceedingly above-and-beyond what you can ask or think moments,” said Tucker.
By learning entrepreneurial skills, single mothers do not need to take two jobs or jobs with odd hours, said Tucker. She also schedules classes and college visits to empower this community of women by teaching skills of self-reliance and goal-setting.
Tucker used her own funds to purchase a house in East Nashville, which serves as the site of group activities as well as a site of social enterprise where women cater events and birthday parties, cultivate a garden and operate a mobile kitchen. Programming also includes an investment club teaching financial literacy and self-sufficiency skills and two youth development programs.
“Kim Tucker embodies the spirit Mary Morris exemplified in this community,” said John Conger, the chair of the department of Family and Consumer Sciences, who nominated Tucker. “She has been a tireless advocate for the population she serves and is an example of one who has risen above difficult circumstances and limited resources to accomplish great things. She is great at casting an optimistic vision, has an infectious personality, and takes no credit for herself.”
Through the I.C. White Stone Foundation, Tucker works with other Nashville nonprofits such as the Oasis Center, Salvation Army, churches and neighborhood associations to coordinate networking and volunteer opportunities for women and their children.
Tucker is a single mom herself, with a college-age son and another who will be headed to college soon. Tucker's oldest son is finishing up his first year at Berea College in Berea, Ky. with a full-ride scholarship and her younger son is currently in college preparatory courses at Pope John Paul II High School.
The Mary Morris Award is given annually to a member of the Lipscomb community who demonstrates a high level of service to the community and the church and who exhibits vision in creating new avenues to expand Christian principles in unconventional ways.
Previous winners of the Mary Morris Award are Nancy Moon Gonzalez, who developed character education curriculum for schools in Guatemala and Honduras; Randy Steger, founder of Healing Hands International; Jon Lee, director of the Living Water Project; Andrew and Lindsey Krinks, local advocates for the homeless, and Tom Burton, executive director of AGAPE.