Melanie Stoker was named the 2014 Utah Mother of the Year and has been committed to Utah Mothers since then.
Born in 1959 to Evan and Darlene Madsen, Melanie was the 3rd of six children. She graduated from Cottonwood High and attended Ricks College.
In 1989, she was a single mother of 2 boys. She had an autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis that is currently in remission. She later met and married Ron Stoker, a widower with 6 children. They married and combined families, having a 9th child together. They fostered 3 additional children who tragically lost their mother for several years.
Their life together has been filled with joy and sprinkled with trials. They have had challenges with children, health and finances. Melanie’s husband broke his neck, had numerous surgeries, a serious infection and was injured in a surgery leaving him a quadriplegic. Through much determination, Melanie was able to teach him to walk again. They have lived through sickness and health, poverty and wealth and have placed their faith in God.
PHILOSOPHY ON PARENTING
My husband and I created a mission statement for our family. We wanted to help our children grow up to be “kind, loving, and productive adults.” Everything that we have done together as parents has focused on that mission statement. As we blended our families into one, we put our marriage first. It was and is a priority.
We did a lot of family activities but we felt it was just as important to spend time with each child alone. We ate dinner together as a family almost every night. We did homework with ALL of the children right after dinner. We attended sporting events, concerts and recitals as we supported each other. Mostly we have just taught our children to love, support and serve each other. They have grown up to be kind, loving and productive adults.
HOW BEING A MOTHER HAS IMPACTED MY LIFE
There is nothing else in my life, no award, no recognition that I have received that brings me as much satisfaction as motherhood has brought to me. Nurturing my nine children and now my soon to be 25 grandchildren brings out motherly instincts in me I never knew I had!
I remember as a young mother the first time I looked into my baby boy’s eyes. He gazed back at me as if to say, “So, you’re my mother.” I was overwhelmed and doubted my ability to care for him for the next 21 years of his life! Since that day I have learned to take each day and each trial a moment at a time changing my perspective as needed. Even mountains of laundry remind me of how incredibly blessed I really am.
As a “step-mom” I felt like I was often stepping into the shoes of my children’s deceased mother and robbing her of those precious moments that she deserved to have. I made it a priority to never let the children forget her by keeping her memory alive. In turn these “step-children” from ages 12 to 2 recognized that I would never replace her and they loved me for it. To “earn” the right to be called “mom” is a huge reward.
Seeing our children nurturing and loving their little ones is exciting to watch. Somehow in my youth and parenthood I MUST have done something right!
Parent Teacher Association
Having 9 children I am sure many people thought I had a free pass in being involved with the PTA. However, both my husband and I felt even more committed in taking an active role in our childrens’ schools from elementary to high school. Although I never held a position on the PTA committee, for 26 years I was always involved. There were class parties for each child, fund raisers, health screening, teacher appreciation, plays and activities.
I believe that through the years of involvement I got to know all of my children’s teachers and administrators on a familiar basis. We also became connected with other parents who shared a common goal of improving the schools that our children attended. I knew that my opinion and help mattered! We helped create safer walk ways, improved school boundaries and set up and ran activities for our children. We were involved in eye, scoliosis and hearing screenings.
We felt that it was critical to the success of each one of our children. The more involved we became with PTA the better our children’s grades became and we had fewer disciplinary problems with our children. My PTA involvement helped each of my children recognize that their education and welfare was the number one priority to me.
Boy Scouts of America
As a young mother with 2 little boys I was first introduced to the scouting program through my church. I had no idea how involved I would become. 30 years later Boys Scouts of America has helped each of my 5 amazing sons to become Eagle Scouts. Thankfully I had a husband (also an eagle scout) who felt that scouting was one of the most important programs our sons could be involved in. Our four daughters have each earned the young women’s medallions through our church which is equal to the Eagle Scout Award and then married men who were Eagle Scouts as well. (Yes I am proud!)
As a scouting leader the program has always been a priority to me. I have had the awesome opportunity to be in the trenches with boys in the Wolves, Bears and at the present time the Webelos, as a Den Leader. I take cub scouting very seriously in helping these boys grow and mature into fine young men.
One of my favorite memories was when one of my wolves who is now a 31 year old father of two saw me at the store. He warmly greeted me and said, “Do you remember when you were my Den Mother? We had so much fun! Thank you for putting up with me!!”
There have been more than 50 boys that I have been personally involved with. Scouting emphasizes a strong bond between boys and their families. It teaches them to, ‘Leave No Trace’, ‘Be Prepared’ and ‘Do your best’. I am lucky to have had the opportunity be involved in scouting.