By Dawn Klavon
There is nothing as strong and resilient as a mother’s love, so starting an organization to honor moms has "great idea" written all over it. Many can attest to having the Mother of the Year Award, but through the American Mothers, Inc (AMI) organization, you can make it official.
That’s the mission of American Mothers, Inc. — to honor moms who make a difference in communities nationwide. The first National Mother of the Year® was named by Sara Delano Roosevelt in 1935. Recognizing an admirable mother provided inspiration to a nation in need of unconditional love, inner strength and courage. American Mothers has honored model mothers from across the country every year since.
“I can name all kinds of reasons why moms are incredible. Honoring moms is so important.” -Joyce Stevens, President of AMI + Nebraska Mother of the Year® 2012
The 2014 Montana Mother of the Year® and current 2nd Vice President of AMI, Sabrina Wisher-DeWitt said the organization honors women from many different journeys, but the common denominator is that every one of these women is a mother.
“I have learned, you don't have to have the same blood type to be a child’s mom,” Wisher-DeWitt said. “AMI stands behind our moms and together, we will continue to make a difference. It takes a village, and AMI has that village!"
It’s a built-in support network of women who understand the challenges moms face.
“This is a diverse group of women who encourages each other as moms,” said 2022 Mother of the Year®, Doris Donley. “Each woman brings a unique and distinctive perspective to parenting, all the while supporting each other in their motherhood journey. Being supported by other mothers, collectively, helps every one of us become better mothers.”
The organization’s roots are noble. In 1931, two years before she was First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt announced the formation of a nationwide program for the better observance of Mother’s Day that would help dependent mothers and needy children. Sponsored by J.C. Penney’s Golden Rule Foundation, the Golden Rule Mother’s Day Committee established a fund to promote a “Golden Rule observance of Mother’s Day.”
“Of course, the Golden Rule is, do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you,” Stevens says. “Eleanor Roosevelt started it based on that.”
By 1933, committees were formed in almost every state and expressed the group’s philosophy that “the truest tribute that can be paid to [a] mother is to share with others the love that she so generously and often sacrificially lavished upon us.” The funds established were distributed to local hospitals, homes for the aged, orphanages, churches and other welfare agencies to be used where needed most.
Mother of the Year®
By 1935, the American Mothers Committee of the Golden Rule Foundation gathered New York City’s notable citizens at the Waldorf Astoria, where Sarah Delano Roosevelt, the Committee’s Honorary Chairman, presented the first American Mother of the Year® Award.
Every year since, AMI names an inspirational mother from nominees across the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for this important honor. The group of extraordinary women, by their very nature, form a family bond.
“I was raised by my dad, so the most gratifying thing for me is the women who have taken me into their families as one of their own,” said Wisher-DeWitt, “In nine years, I have gained moms and grandmas!”
After 90 years, AMI remains a valuable network and voice for the 85 million mothers in America and is committed to raising awareness about issues that impact mothers and children. Its purpose is exclusively charitable.
“It’s an organization that will help you connect with other moms,” Stevens says. “We all have so much to offer each other.”
American Mothers Opportunities
The group holds an annual convention where they honor the Mothers of the Year® state honorees. Moms and their guests network with other moms, hear from dynamic speakers and meet past and present Mothers of the Year®.
In addition, the organization produces a podcast called The American Mothers: Mom to Mom Podcast, which provides a forum for mothers of all ages to engage in conversations on a variety of topics. The weekly, 30-minute programs lift, educate, encourage and support mothers in their various responsibilities as they shape the rising generation.
The Golden Rule
AMI encourages a more positive and empathetic culture in America by providing charitable and communications support for programs which benefit mothers and children through the Golden Rule Grant.
The Golden Rule Grant provides an avenue where American Mothers can implement its mission and values by supporting other non-profit organizations as they provide services for the common good of mothers and children. Only nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations involved in projects that provide health and human services and civic and community programs that impact mothers and/or children are considered to receive a Golden Rule Grant. Annually, the current State Mothers of the Year® and the National 5th Grade Essay Contest Winner recommend nonprofit organizations to be considered.
Changing the World Through the United Nations
AMI is a world changer. It’s a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Currently, members work with the United Nations and the Commission on the Status of Women to raise awareness about issues impacting women and children worldwide. AMI also works closely with other organizations around the globe who share their mission.
American Mothers, Inc.®, Innocents at Risk and Operation Underground Railroad have forged a partnership to educate mothers and the public on ways to identify trafficking and how to take action. Through the Mother’s Eyes on the World initiative, these organizations work together to educate the public on how to identify the key signs of trafficking and protect the children of our communities.
Members encourage moms from every walk of life to join their organization. The benefits include gaining support and encouragement in motherhood.
“I couldn't ask for a better group of women to stand with me on this journey of life who will love me and support me!” said Wisher-DeWitt.
AMI member, Donley, offered wise motherly advice: “Find an American Mothers, Inc. chapter in your area, partner with them and get involved in your community,” she said. “They can help you find something that you are passionate about if you haven’t already, shower the joys of motherhood around your community and give not only to your children but [to] the other children in your community — because we all need a mom.”