I was so saddened when I got the call. My friend, Jeanne Marie Cowdrey, passed away last fall.
Anybody who knew Jeanne Marie knew she was special. She worked the front office at Piney Grove Middle School and was the smiling face everyone saw when entering.
Terri North, the school’s principal, told me Jeanne Marie was their “face up front,” quick to help anyone.
“She was a wonderful giver of her time and talents, both at Piney and throughout the Forsyth County community,” she said. “To many of our young staff, she was an infinite source of motherly wisdom; her passion for living life to the fullest and her quick wit and ever-present smile were her hallmarks.”
I first met Jeanne Marie years ago when I got involved with Jesse’s House, an emergency and long-term shelter for girls ages 7 to 17.
As a longtime board member, Jeanne Marie was always committed to helping the shelter run smoothly. It was obvious to all who knew her that her passion for Jesse’s House was real and heartfelt.
The staff and parents at Piney Grove Middle were devastated when Jeanne Marie passed. A special group of staff and parents decided they wanted to do something to honor her life and the contributions she made on behalf of the shelter.
Often referred to as “the heartbeat of Jesse’s House,” Jeanne Marie inspired the school to name its campaign “Enrich a Life.” The group wanted to get as many people at the school and in our community involved as possible.
After many meetings and much discussion, the group decided to establish the Jeanne Marie Fund for Jesse’s House. The money will go to a variety of things to assist Jesse’s House, including trips to educational venues like the Georgia Aquarium, museums and more.
February was the perfect month for the school to kick off its campaign because Jeanne Marie’s favorite color was red and her birthday was Valentine’s Day. To raise money for the fund, students and teachers dedicated songs to each other for $1, and they sell Enrich a Life wristbands for $2 each.
Wondering how you can help? On Feb. 25, you can take your family out to dinner to a number of sponsor restaurants. The restaurant will in turn contribute proceeds to the Jeanne Marie Fund.
As of this writing, there are 14 restaurants signed up to participate, including Cici’s, Buckhead Pizza, Black Diamond Grill, Yogli Mogli and Chili’s. Other restaurants are sure to join in, so check the Piney Grove Middle Web site at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/Domain/2229 when deciding where to go for dinner.
There will be placemats at sponsoring restaurants telling the story of Jesse’s House so everybody will know what a great cause the proceeds are going to.
I love that business owners care enough to do this. Please mark your calendar and plan on going out to dinner that Monday night.
If we all pull together and do this, imagine the impact it could have on the lives of girls at the shelter, many of whom have probably never had the opportunity to attend a concert or visit a museum. What a simple thing you can do to help this great cause.
Jesse’s House is a special place that strives first and foremost to provide a safe environment for girls and young women who, in most cases, have nowhere else to go. The staff and board members want these girls to be successful and feel empowered as they heal from past wounds and move forward with their lives.
I have no doubt that while Jeanne Marie is no longer on this earth, she is watching over her family and the shelter she so cared about.
Rest in peace, Jeanne Marie.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.