|Ruth Huston-Whipple, first woman mayor of Plymouth
The award is named in honor of Ruth Huston-Whipple, the first woman elected as a city commissioner (1934-1949) and the first female mayor of Plymouth (1940-1942) and the first woman to serve on the Wayne County Board of Supervisors.
Huston-Whipple was a graduate of Plymouth High School and worked as a teacher and debate coach at her alma mater. She fought against school policies that discriminated against married women and eventually left the district in protest. She remained a leader in the Plymouth community, championing the improvement of inhumane conditions at a local juvenile detention center and addressing environmental and beautification concerns in the city.
During her tenure as an elected official Huston-Whipple organized the first city-wide refuse collection system in the city, served on the zoning board and represented Plymouth in the Michigan Municipal League. She was a tireless volunteer leader of local organizations including the Plymouth Historical Society, the Plymouth Woman's Club, the Plymouth Garden Club, the Plymouth Business and Professional Women's Club and the Plymouth Canteen Club War Service Committee.
Huston-Whipple's leadership and dedication to the community were more remarkable as she had been disabled at a relatively young age by a series of strokes.
The purpose of the Ruth Huston-Whipple Award for Civic Engagement is to honor a community member who, like the woman for whom the award is named, has positively impacted the quality of life in the City of Plymouth through his or her exceptional civic and/or philanthropic engagement.
To be eligible for the award, individuals must have demonstrated civic and /or philanthropic engagement within the City of Plymouth which shows a community benefit, delivered with integrity and perseverance. Married couples can be nominated for the award but recipients of the award, current members of the Plymouth City Commission and full-time employees of the city are not eligible.
Nominees should have contributed to the city of Plymouth at a level above and beyond reasonable expectations and demonstrated character, commitment and/or leadership qualities. Nominees should have actively participated in community or civic organizations which influence the city and have exemplified accomplishments and contributions to the economic vitality and/or residential quality of life in the city.
Nominations forms are available at www.plymouthmi.gov. A selection committee including two mayor-appointed city commissioners and a representative from the city administration will choose and notify the winners.
The first winner of the Ruth Huston-Whipple Award for Civic Engagement was presented to Debra Madonna last year. Madonna founded the Miracle League of Plymouth, which provides special needs children with mental and physical disabilities a chance to play and experience baseball. Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed, rubberized turf field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assertive devices while helping to prevent injuries. The Miracle League of Plymouth played its first season in the fall of 2011.
The award also recognized Madonna's service as a board member for the Plymouth Community Arts Council and her roll in the organization of the Wednesday Music in the Park children's concerts series in Kellogg Park among many other contributions to the quality of life in the city.