A Gift That Inspires Others

rc201335-D096mitchellFor as long as she can remember, Dottie Mitchell has felt the spirit of giving in her family.

“My parents (Guy and Kacy Mitchell) first taught me about giving in church. Then, through them, I learned the concept of being a good community member, of giving back. It was never presented to my brother, sister, and me that giving back was a burden. It was presented as something you do out of love.”

Dottie has role models for giving that extend beyond her parents to preceding generations – including her maternal grandparents, Glenn and Mallie Ireland, who have long given to community causes. It seemed natural to Dottie to become involved with Leadership UAB, and then to join a UAB support group – in her case, the Junior Board of Visitors (JBOV) at the UAB School of Nursing. She had family precedent for supporting nursing; her great-aunt, former public health nurse Fay Ireland, is a veteran member of the UAB nursing school’s senior community-support group, the Board of Visitors (BOV). “After joining the JBOV, I became even more aware of the importance of good nursing,” said Dottie. 

In 2012, Dottie and fellow JBOV members embarked on a very special mission. They were raising funds to endow a UAB pediatric nurs- ing scholarship in memory of precious twin babies, Houston and Morgan McCoin, who had been born prema- turely and lived only a short time. The brother and sister entered the world both tiny and vulnerable – weighing 1 pound 5 ounces, and 2 pounds 1 ounce. Houston died four days af- ter birth. His sister Morgan lost her hard-fought battle at nine months. For Houston and Morgan, their story was not one of living long lives; it was instead a story of leaving long-lasting impact. 

“I felt several things come to- gether in reflecting about the McCoin babies,” said Dottie. “I already knew the babies’ mother, Elizabeth, a fellow JBOV member. Too, aware this McCoin scholarship was for pediat- ric nursing care, I thought about my young cousin who recently had benefitted from pediatric care. I was very moved. So I went to my dad and asked, ‘Would you provide financial support for this scholarship?’”

Dottie’s father, Guy K. Mitchell, Jr., said yes to his daughter’s request. Through his company, Mitchell In- dustries Inc., he pledged $10,000 a year over three years. It was the largest single pledge to the JBOV’s 2012 No-Show Ball fundraiser, which net- ted $108,551 to endow the McCoin scholarship – the most successful initiative in the JBOV’s six-year history.

The Mitchell gift structure be- came pivotal, especially in fueling momentum. It was a challenge gift; a lower amount was pledged initially; if the JBOV matched it with successful fundraising – which it did – the gift would be at the higher level.

“The Mitchell family has raised awareness and support for nursing’s critical work with our patients and their families at some of the most vulnerable times in life, ” said Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing. 

Moved by his daughter, and the cause “When Dottie asked me to support the McCoin scholarship, my first reaction was as a parent – pleased that Dottie was concerned about some- thing that seemed such a worthy endeavor,” said Guy Mitchell. “Too, hav- ing children and grandchildren, my heart was touched about these parents losing their two babies.” 

Soon after pledging a donation, Mitchell was out in the community one day when a young man approached him, introduced himself, and said a special thank you. The young man was Seth McCoin, father of Houston and Morgan.

That encounter with the young father was very meaningful for Guy Mitchell.

When considering the model for a true “giving heart,” Guy Mitchell said he thinks first of someone he deeply admires – his wife and the mother of his three children, Kacy Ireland Mitchell. “I see Kacy as a great example of a giving heart – because the way Kacy gives in the community is not just financially, but also of her time and talents. Kacy has been a great example of the giving heart for our three children.”