Alumnae Award winner during Alumnae Weekend 2019
The enthusiastic letters supporting Linda Lee Rich’s nomination reveal friends and colleagues who view Linda with a mixture of admiration, affection, and awe. She credits Wesleyan religion professor Dr. Harry Gilmer as a major influence. “He taught the core values that have guided my life, giving me a firmer resolve that my career would be about service.” And, indeed, so it has been. As a young Red Cross worker in Viet Nam, as a social worker, as a volunteer with the Institute for Healing of Memories, as lay leader in her church, as a participant in Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village building programs in Samoa and Ghana, through the Hula Preservation Society, in numerous positions as social worker and mental health professional – Linda Lee Rich has devoted her life to serving others.
Linda served for more than twenty years with The Salvation Army Family Treatment Services (FTS), which provides a continuum of care for drug-dependent women and their children. Women’s Way, FTS’s residential treatment program is the only resource of its kind for women in Hawaii. During her tenure, Linda integrated Hawaiian cultural practices into the program, developed the organization’s capacity to provide services to women with both mental health and substance abuse disorders, and expanded services to include family therapy, including reunification with their children, greatly improving outcomes for the women. Linda has said of the program, “Lives were changed and families were reunited, and women discovered their strengths because we built a continuum of care that provided long-term, intensive intervention and support.” When she retired in 2013, all twelve of the women in the transitional living program were in college – something none of them had dreamed possible.
Linda has served for 21 years as an accreditation surveyor and consultant for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), traveling around the country consulting with organizations striving to develop quality services.
An active member of the Church of the Crossroads, UCC, she has served as moderator and has held other leadership positions. On a visit to South Africa with church friends, Linda visited the Institute for the Healing of Memories (IHOM), an organization founded to promote healing through honest sharing of individual stories of physical and emotional injury. Linda is now chairperson of the board of directors of the Institute for Healing of Memories – North America, an affiliate organization working for reconciliation and peace through healing the wounds of the past. Linda regularly facilitates workshops in New York, Minnesota, Arizona, California, Hawaii, and elsewhere.
Linda’s lifetime of service has garnered her numerous awards, including Outstanding Executive Director, Mental Health America of Hawaii, 2008; Lifetime Achievement Award, National Association of Social Workers, Hawaii Chapter, 2010; Hina Mauka’s Andy Anderson Award (for outstanding advocacy for women and children), 2014; Partners in Community Service Award, The Salvation Army, Hawaii Division, 2014; and Excellence in Social Services, The Salvation Army, Western Territory, 2014.
Because, in the words of a former classmate, “Linda’s life, both personal and professional, embodies Wesleyan’s values;” because, in the words of another friend, “Linda represents the very best that Wesleyan has stood for through the years;” because, Linda continues to serve as a model of servant leadership; the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association proudly presents the Award for Distinguished Service to the Community to Linda Lee Rich.
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