Melissa Usternul Tehan – Winner of the Fourth Michelle A. Mendez Lifetime Service Award
A devoted parent and servant, St. Monica embodies the qualities many parents strive to emulate. Michelle Mendez was a St. Monica parent who truly possessed the spirit of a servant leader in her personal, professional, and community relationships. She was an invaluable asset to many organizations, and the St. Monica community was one of the lucky recipients of her devoted volunteerism.
Inspired by her dedication to service, The Michelle A. Mendez Lifetime Service Award was created in an effort to recognize a current 8th grade parent who shares her passion for serving others.
This year’s recipient has a relentless devotion to serving our greater community. She emulates the ideals and dedication of a faithful ambassador of ministry, and her selfless example quietly inspires those around her.
Her loyalty to community is evident in the many ministries she serves. Having fostered God’s grace for four years as a FOCCUS Group Facilitator, she assisted in the spiritual growth of couples aspiring for the Sacrament of Marriage. She served as a Cub Scout Troop Leader and Boy Scouts of America Volunteer, spearheading the service arm for four years, which included organizing, preparing and serving meals through the Austin Street Ministry. She has assisted with the Junior Catholic Daughters of the Americas for the past seven years, and her service has further expanded to include many city-wide charities. Serving over eighty hours annually through the National Charity League, these efforts have inspired our youth to live out their oath to continue serving others.
She has faithfully served our St. Monica School students and teachers for twenty one years. A regular and active member of the Parent Teacher Organization, she has dedicated over seven years on the PTO Board as a Vice President, as well as in additional capacities. For nearly two decades she has been executing school dances, launching the 8th Grade Graduation Brunch, serving as Grade Level Representative, Homeroom Parent, and assisting frequently in the Library, Cafeteria and Playground. She contributed to PTO Autumnfest, serving as Bingo Chairman and coordinating the infamous Autumnfest Raffle Baskets for many years. She has assisted with the Dads’ Club Auction Gala, class parties and projects, and countless other community events. She is also responsible for transforming the SCRIP Program into a computerized system, serving as its coordinator for over two years.
Her dedication to improving confidence in our student athletes became evident when she not only led an all male Varsity Volleyball Team, but she also coached the Swim Team for six years, and served as Assistant Coach of the Track Team for three years. Moreover, her continued devotion led her to serve as Head of Apparel for the Jesuit Varsity Crew Team, assist with the Jesuit Golf Team, as well as provide meals for Crew Regattas and the Track Team. Her outstanding years of volunteer efforts in the Jesuit Ranger Connection became yet another avenue to embrace community relationships.
For the past 21 years she has served the school, church, and greater community in countless ways, inspiring her own 6 children and others to give back with their time and talent. Her impact is far-reaching, exemplifying valuable lessons in servant leadership. She has been called a “wonderful light of enthusiasm” increasing volunteerism and awareness from both our youth and parent community alike.