CATEGORY: Alcorn County



By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH - A woman described as one who works behind the scenes to help the needy was named Corinth's Outstanding Citizen for 1997 at the annual Corinth Junior Auxiliary Charity Ball Friday night.

Junior Auxiliary President Kim Williams presented the prestigious award to Mary Frances Stephens, a resident of Alcorn County for 33 years.

Williams said the 1997 Outstanding Citizen is a person who lives by Jesus' words: "For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me in, naked and you clothed me."

Stephens graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education. She taught in Corinth city schools for more than 22 years and was a member of Beta Sigma Pi.

Stephens also served as a Cub Scout leader, Boys Club tutor and a Children's Literacy tutor.

Her loving compassion extends beyond the young to the old, Williams said. Reared by her aunt, Stephens understands the needs of senior citizens and assists several elderly people on a regular basis.

As chairman of the AMEN Food Pantry, she is credited with keeping the community food bank open and functioning day to day. Although she has physical ailments, no task is too large or too small for her to tackle when it comes to keeping the food pantry going, Williams said.

More than 5,000 people in Alcorn County have received food from the agency since it was established in 1994.

Stephens also serves on the board of directors of Helping Hands, a free clinic which provides medical, dental and pharmacy services to the working poor of Corinth and Alcorn County.

Another important area in Stephens life is her church, Corinth's First United Methodist Church where she serves on the Administrative Board and Pastor Parish Relations Committee. She is a lay delegate to the Annual Conference, is the Mission Committee chairperson and the TV Ministry volunteer coordinator. As her pastor said, she serves faithfully, but often in the background.

Stephens is the mother of two sons, Rusty and Drew. Her husband, Larry Howell Stephens was killed in an automobile accident in 1990.

"Although Mary Frances Stephens is not a high-profile person, she is the epitome of an outstanding citizen," Williams said. "Through her own serious illnesses and personal tragedy and personal tragedy, she still always puts Corinth and its citizens first by serving others. She is traditionally a behind-the-scenes person, but truly a servant-leader."

Held at the Hillandale Country Club Friday night, the ball also marked the 50th year for the service club which benefits needy children. Several charter members of the club, established as the Junior Service League, were honored guests.

"The Windows of the World" was the theme of this year's gala, the auxiliary's only fund-raiser. Corinth businessman David Palmer served as emcee of the night's events.

Proceeds of the annual event are used to purchase clothes for children in need, to support a scholarship program and to fund other programs aimed at bettering the lives of children in the community.

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