March is celebrated as National Women’s History Month in thousands of communities and military bases throughout the world. This month is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s historic achievements. Meet Yvonne Dempsey. She is one of the most active individuals I have ever met, not only at the museum, but in the Athens community. From spelling bees to Vietnam Veterans, if it has to do with service, she will most likely be there. Here in her own words is why Yvonne gives so much back!
I was blessed to grow up in Louisiana during the ’50s and 60s. It was a time when we proudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each school day, and we learned the words to the National Anthem and other patriotic songs.
As a child, I knew that volunteering was something that everyone did. I remember helping my daddy, a WWII Navy veteran, with Buddy Poppy fundraisers for the VFW. I later joined the VFW Auxiliary because of him.
While raising my boys, I was always room mother and PTO officer. I also was a Cub Scout Den Leader and District Tiger Cub Coordinator,VFW Americanism Chairman and Community Activities Chairman, and Altar Server Coordinator. My boys were some of my best helpers.
In 1995, I decided to go to college. As Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society president at Calhoun, I loved helping fellow students and doing community activities. I continued being active on campus at Athens State and enjoyed being on the Scholar’s Bowl team.
Two of my four sons were in Athens High’s JROTC and went into the military. John served in the Army during the ‘90s and Joshua is currently in his ninth year as a sergeant the Marines.
I taught high school English while taking care of my son Matthew after he got brain cancer during his first semester at college. After his death at 25, I no longer felt like teaching, but I needed to do something. That something was more volunteering…and learning to ride my Harley!
Every Wednesday I volunteer at the Alabama Veterans’ Museum. I love spending time with the veterans and listening to their stories. I’m also there any time help is needed. For the museum’s Threads of Honor fundraiser, I worked with other ladies to sew names on the quilt which now hangs in the museum.
As a member of the Associates of the Vietnam Veterans, I spend every third Monday cooking and serving for the VVA Spaghetti Day fundraiser to raise money for college scholarships for local high school students.
Participating in military funerals as a member of the Limestone Veterans Burial Detail is a great honor for me. It is another way for me to thank our heroes for their service.
I am secretary for Together We Stand, which is an organization that was formed last year to show support for our police officers and other first responders. We are working on this year’s program to honor firefighters and EMTs.
Besides these organizations and activities, my church is an important part of my life. Currently, I am president of St. Paul Catholic Women, the Catholic Women of N. AL, and the Catholic Women of the Diocese of Birmingham. I also serve as a Eucharistic Minister.
I’m a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who truly believes in using my God-given talents and abilities to help others. I am thankful to be an American, and grateful for the opportunity to do all that I do. God Bless America! As Margaret Thatcher said “If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
Thank you, Yvonne, for all the ways you give of yourself to North Alabama, Limestone County, and Athens, and please accept our deepest appreciation in connection with Women’s History Month.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans' Museum