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South Carolina recognizes the efforts of 84-year old Marie Frierson. No one gives of herself more freely than Ms. Frierson does.
An avid volunteer for the Columbia Urban League, Ms. Frierson has been a foster parent since 1973 and has cared for more than 1,000 boys and girls during those 27 years. She has made herself available to accept foster children into her home at all hours of the day and night, always taking time to explain the rules of her home.
The children who pass through the Frierson household learn the importance of respect, honesty and old-fashioned Christian values. It is not uncommon for Ms. Frierson to have 10 foster children with her at church on any given Sunday morning. Just have a conversation with Ms. Frierson and she will begin to brag about "her kids." She actively seeks mentors so the children can have young role models to participate in their lives.
In 1998, Ms. Frierson was the inspiration that led the Columbia Urban League to develop its Youth Leadership Development Program for foster children and other needy children. Funded through the South Carolina Department of Social Services, the Youth Leadership Development Program now serves more than 400 young people in 11 South Carolina counties. Through this program, youth get summer jobs and participate in year-round teen leadership development opportunities with teens in other Urban League programs.
"So many of the children I get have broken spirits," says Ms. Frierson. "I work to rebuild their spirits and make them understand that their life is worth something. As a result, many of my children go on to be successful young adults. They carry the lessons they learned in my home throughout college and into their careers." Ms. Frierson is also immensely proud of her biological family. She has 7 children and 23 grandchildren. All of her children are college graduates, two are ministers, and two have earned doctorates. Her eldest child is 65 years old. On any given day, Ms. Frierson can be seen driving around town, attending PTA meetings, and running errands for the children and elders she takes into her home. When one asks Ms. Frierson what keeps her going at age 84, she says, "My faith in the good Lord and the strength He gives me each day to help my fellow man."