2013 Barbara Thompson Gift Recipient
Jill Bigelow has enjoyed 41 years of marriage to Dr. Robert D. Bigelow, a retired podiatrist. They are the parents of ten wonderful children, including a son with Down Syndrome. They adore their 34 grandchildren. She was nominated to be the 2013 Utah Mother of the Year because of her kind and committed qualities as a mother and for her lifetime of outstanding community service. She was not selected as the Mother of the Year, but will be recognized as a Mother of Achievement.
Jill says, “I am absolutely passionate about the powerful role of motherhood in shaping tender lives, families, communities, nations and the world!” Jill applies her passion for children, learning and teaching as she has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for American Heritage School, as well as on the Teacher Development and Curriculum Committees.
American Heritage School
AHS, a donated facility nestled beneath the mountains in American Fork, Utah, serves some 700 on-campus students, grades K-12, and hundreds of families worldwide through its Distance Education program. AHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, private school and receives no state or federal funds. With an inspiring history of sacrifice, generous donors continue to provide half the cost of each student’s tuition making this education more affordable to students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.
For decades, Rob and Jill Bigelow have been strong advocates of AHS. They are passionate about the school’s mission to “educate hearts and minds” through rigorous academics, character education, and patriotism. Their extended family members founded the school over 40 years ago, and many in their family have attended. Their youngest daughter was in the first graduating class, seven of their grandchildren are currently full-time students, and a number of them learn in the new AHS Family School. Jill teaches about a dozen grandchildren in a weekly “Grandma School” using curriculum she has written for the school.
Jill currently serves on the AHS Board of Trustees and on its Distance Education and Teacher Development and Curriculum Committees. With a love for children, learning, and teaching, she has had extensive experience writing curriculum, presenting in-service training for teachers, and speaking to parents in educational conventions, conferences, and workshops.
AHS Teddy Bear Project
One of Jill’s favorite service activities is done annually by the students at AHS – the Teddy Bear Project. This activity helps the children learn the value of sacrifice, work, sharing and giving.
For fifteen years, AHS has supported the Ogden Rescue Mission by donating hundreds of new teddy bears each Christmas. Throughout the year, a new teddy bear is given to each homeless, traumatized child as he or she enters the Mission. These needy children cling to their bears, their only possession, and their hearts are comforted during a time of upheaval. AHS students are taught to follow the school’s tradition of sacrifice, earn their own money, and purchase teddy bears to help “bear one another’s burdens.”
AHS students take this charge seriously. They feel compassion for the needy children and work hard to purchase teddy bears. AHS students earn money by setting up lemonade stands, instigating bake sales, serving the elderly, milking goats, and even scooping up dog manure in the neighborhood. Part of the great “Teddy Bear Brigade” tradition happens when students line the hallways and hug each bear before sending it to the Rescue Mission. They hope the needy children can feel their “one hundred hugs in each bear.” How inspiring to see children helping children!
Ogden Rescue Mission
The Ogden Rescue Mission is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which receives no state or federal funding. It uses the Bible to help heal hearts, homes, and lives. Instead of merely doling out fish, they teach people “how to fish.” Doctors, pharmacists, and professionals donate their services to care for the needy.
Blessings of $1,000 Gift
If selected to receive The Barbara Thompson Gift, Jill would like AHS to be the beneficiary to aid the “Teddy Bear Brigade.” This would empower AHS to continue this charitable project for several years. Managed wisely, it would help cover hard expenses, such as the following:
Hundreds of large, clear plastic bags for packaging bears
Sanitizer spray for bears
DVD’s with compassionate clips of the project for the school’s lending library
AHS would like to send the high school media class to film the Ogden Rescue Mission. They would make DVD clips to promote the project which would be shown at many school events, and potentially inspire others to donate to this worthy cause.
AHS would like to expand the project to include shoes and socks for the homeless