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Caring for the Community: Karen Wallace '71

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Posted on Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Karen Wallace’s ’71 humble generosity and commitment to her fellow human embodies the commitment and appreciation sectors of the College’s mission. Read on to learn why Karen has a space on Santa’s Nice List this year.

“When the CarePortal was first introduced to our church in December 2021, I thought this is a great idea for local, hands-on mission. I remember thinking I want to help the person who chairs it,” shares retired teacher Wallace.Karen Wallace and Paul

And then no one stepped up. Two years later and more than 100 families served, Wallace (an elementary education graduate) took the initiative. Today, she continues to serve as facilitator for the CarePortal at New Wilmington Presbyterian Church. The portal is an online platform sharing the needs of local families as identified by social service caseworkers. 

“I had no idea how to begin. But I knew someone had to. The response from people in our community, including Westminster and New Wilmington has been amazing!”

As facilitator, Karen helps share out the needs of local children, families and adults in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, as added to the CarePortal (an online service available in 24 states) by local social services agencies. She often asks church members and community members, according to their gifts and abilities, if they might be able to help fulfill needs as indicated by the requests in the Portal. From home improvement work, to children’s clothing, household items and especially, beds, Wallace’s efforts have helped facilitate the purchase and delivery of: 49 mattresses, 46 bed frames, 40 sets of sheets, plus pillows, blankets, furniture, clothing and various household items, in just 2023 alone. 

In deferring credit for her contributions, Wallace shared her gratitude for the many people who’ve stepped up to volunteer their time, effort and money in giving back through CarePortal requests, including fellow Westminster alumni Tawnee Hunter ’96 and her husband Dave, in addition to Wallace’s husband, Paul ’69, who also previously served as Westminster's director of information systems.

“I think of Westminster and our New Wilmington church community as a team,” expressed Wallace. “And the team has really done a lot of great work together this year, especially in gifting children their very own beds to sleep in, which is a heartwarming sight.”

Wallace’s contributions to serving her community extend back to her 23-year teaching career at Wilmington Area School District, mostly leading fifth grade. She continues actively serving as a volunteer at the school, and in addition to her work with the CarePortal, she serves on various committees and is a member of the Joybells Handbell Choir at her church.

After graduating with her teaching degree from Westminster, also where she met and married Paul in 1971, she taught in southern Virginia for three years. Wallace recalls who stepped up for her during her time on campus, and whose classes and experiences shaped her life including Harry Swanhart’s memorable high expectations, Jerb Miller’s exceptional humor, and Clara Cockerille standards of professionalism. 

While the impact she’s had after more than 25 years in education is immeasurable, her ability to step up and care for the community continues to grow.

This holiday season and always, we are proud to recognize Karen and all our amazing alumni who give back to their communities.