Compassion in Action
Sitting in the waiting room at her doctor’s office, Cathy Williams read an advertisement in the Edmond Sun that encouraged her to nominate a person who modeled the character trait of the month. She thought of her long-time friend, and sent a recommendation to the Character Council of Edmond’s website.
At January’s Edmond City Council meeting, Cathy’s friend, Maureen Coury, was honored as Champion of Character for Compassion. The two ladies met twenty-three years ago, when Maureen, her husband, Gerald, and their children moved from Virginia to volunteer at the Character First! Training Center in Oklahoma City. Cathy and her sons, also volunteered at the Center. Their families stayed in touch through the years and despite periods of time without seeing one another, they maintain a close bond.
Maureen credits Jesus and her mother, Eva Hopfer, for instilling the core value of reaching out to others in need. Before she heard about Jesus, she looked for love, truth and purpose. But, felt empty. When she met Jesus, He changed her life. She found a new love in Him and passion for life that she wanted others to experience. So, she decided to use every opportunity to share the transformation and hope she’d discovered by knowing Him.
Maureen views compassion as, “someone who is sympathetic in action.” She said, “It’s an action…and Jesus is all about action and showing people that He cared.” Through Maureen’s mother’s example, and encouragement, Maureen and her four sisters learned the volunteer spirit. Mrs. Hopfer volunteered a lot, including helping out at the Historical Society. She battled cancer, but when she got better, she formed a Cancer Society. She encouraged Maureen and her sisters to reach out to the community. One summer they volunteered 250 hours at church on Sundays and an additional 747 hours at the Red Cross. A newspaper article written when they helped out at the Veteran’s Hospital, called them “The Fearsome Four.”
Cathy said in her nomination, “In the midst of Maureen’s own schedule and needs, she reaches around each person and draws them into her circle of compassion, and when they leave from there they are renewed and encouraged and strengthened to go out again.” Cathy talked about Maureen’s ability to see the potential in young people and help them develop confidence in themselves. Cathy’s own sons received positive reinforcement from Maureen that she believed impacted their lives while they volunteered at the Character First! Training Center. Maureen invited the students, who volunteered, to her home and treated them like her own kids. She also invited the women, who lived at the center, over for tea to brighten their day. She still invites friends to bring their grandchildren over to swim and eat lunch. She always allows time to listen to a friend in need.
If she can do anything to help, she’s there for them. Cathy said that Maureen helped a friend’s daughter with her wedding. She lacked the funds, but Maureen stepped up and provided for her wedding. Maureen recalled her twin-sister’s wedding was almost a disaster due to pimiento cheese sandwiches. Her sister, on a shoestring budget, took on the roles of bride and wedding coordinator. She didn’t want any pimiento cheese sandwiches. On the day of the wedding there was one choice—pimiento cheese. That experience launched Maureen into standing in as wedding coordinator, free of charge, whenever a bride needed help. She discovered a new talent and enjoys serving, so the bride, her groom, and mother can focus on enjoying the wedding.
Since Cathy met Maureen, she’s witnessed the joy her compassion gives. She brings expectation when hope flees, meets needs when resources fail and makes herself available when it counts. That’s why Maureen’s face came to mind when Cathy read the Character Council’s advertisement.
Maureen and Gerald moved to Edmond about six years ago. They have four children, Matthew, Adam, Hannah and David. The boys all live in the Oklahoma City area and Hannah lives in New York. Maureen, who calls herself, “a professional volunteer,” helps out at All Things Baby, OKC. Gerald, an Adjunct Professor at Oklahoma Christian University, teaches Ethics and Attitudes, in the Master’s Program. He was formerly employed with Character First! in earlier years. The family used their combined talents to create a movie and book called, Character Tales. Gerald’s newest venture involves a new character curriculum called, Ethics and Attitudes.
Please complete the form located on our website to recognize an Edmond citizen for a specific character trait. Forms may be submitted from the website or mailed to the
Character Council of Edmond
Champions of Character
PO Box 392
Edmond, OK 73083-0392.
Champions of Character Honorees
2010 to Present