MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Democratic Women paid homage to a local legend by honoring a woman whose efforts continue to offer a safe haven for abused women and children.
Mary Hendrickson was awarded the first Elaine Mayhew Award. The award was created to honor a local woman who exemplifies the philosophy of community service that was such a large part of Mayhew’s time as a lawyer and judge in Knox County. Mayhew became Knox County’s first female lawyer in 1949, worked for probate-juvenile court for many years which included being elected Knox County’s first female juvenile judge, served on many boards, received her honorary doctor of law degree in 1973 and was the recipient of numerous honors and awards.
Past president and committee member Penny Rauzi gave a brief biography of Mayhew, explaining how when the idea for this award was suggested, it was greeted with cheers.
“She was just a giant with her history and her stature in the community,” said Rauzi. “When I met Elaine, I was so impressed,” explaining how it was not easy for women to succeed in the 1940s. “She is a fitting example for us to remember, and I hope this award becomes part of our community in how she inspired us all,” said Rauzi.
Hendrickson was instrumental in starting the New Directions Domestic Abuse Shelter, was named the first part-time director after a Task Force first worked on the project, and has been the director since 1983, said Rose Cole program director.
“Mary is a woman of few words, and this shelter came to this community thanks in large part to her hard work,” said Cole.
Cole recounted for the audience some of the many conversations the two women have shared throughout the years, especially in regard to New Directions.