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Avid volunteer earns Illinois Mother of the Year

When you meet a woman with six children, it is natural to wonder how she does it. In the case of Kathryn Holyoak, she is doing a fabulous job — and she has the award to prove it.

Holyoak, 52, was recently named Illinois Mother of the Year by American Mother’s Inc.

“I was very honored and surprised,” says Holyoak, who has been a Naperville resident for the past 13 years.

American Mothers Inc. has been celebrating mothers since 1935 and is the official sponsor of Mother’s Day. They are a non-denominational, religious-based organization that supports motherhood, addresses global struggles for women with children and helps mothers better their lives.

“They are traditional in their values and that is a great fit for me,” says Holyoak, who joined American Mothers in 2013.

Holyoak is an avid volunteer, which is part of the criteria of a Mother of the Year.

“We look for a mother who is well rounded in service, who is a community leader and who is active in a religious organization,” says Dot Beldon, president of the Illinois chapter of American Mothers Inc.

As the mother of five boys, Holyoak has been active in Boy Scouts for many years. This last winter, she served on a committee for a Regional Scout Training where she also taught a class.

“Whatever my children are involved in, that is where I like to be,” says Holyoak, who volunteered in her children’s classrooms when they were younger.

“I have always served in the church,” says Holyoak, who enjoys working at the church food pantry and Loaves and Fishes. Holyoak is also a member of the Relief Society, a woman’s organization within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

After helping interpret at her church for a deaf couple, Holyoak was inspired to go back to school at Waubonsee Community College to learn American Sign Language.

American Mothers Inc. looks to its members to bring in nominations for Mother of the Year. Holyoak was nominated by her aunt Judy Cook, the 2013 Utah Mother of the Year and 2013 National Mother of the Year.

“Kathryn has all of the outstanding qualities that American Mothers recognizes,” says Cook, of Vineyard, Utah. “She is courageous, bold, innovative and creative.”

Nominees are required to fill out an application and answer questions about her parenting philosophies, her community service and what she does with her family. In Illinois, the Mother of the Year selection committee votes on a Mother of the Year, Young Mother of the Year and Mother of Achievement.

Holyoak’s family was excited about her nomination and selection as Mother of the Year.

“My husband is my biggest cheerleader. He was thrilled for me and he places great value on me being a stay-at-home mom,” says Holyoak, who has been married to her husband, David, for 32 years.

The role as Mother of the Year differs for each woman.

“You take on whatever you are interested in,” Beldon says.

Holyoak has chosen to bring awareness to the organization and grow membership in the Naperville area. Most of the Illinois membership is in the southern part of the state.

In addition to the membership drive, Holyoak would like to promote the programs that are sponsored by American Mothers Inc., including the fifth-grade essay contest and the ABC Quilts (At Risk Babies & Children’s Quilts).

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, American Mother’s Inc. is offering free membership in 2014.

“The best way to join is to come to a meeting,” Beldon says.

Meetings take place twice a year in different Illinois cities. This fall, they plan to meet in Bloomington.

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