Alumna is Making a Difference with 400 Birthday Letters

June 8, 2012 (Jackson) - Belhaven Alumna, Lois Valentine Hayes (’67), was recently featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. The series called “Making a Difference” highlights people around the country that are having a positive impact on others.

Hayes is a retired second grade teacher in West, Mississippi who mails out over 400 birthday cards a year to her former elementary students. Students who were lucky enough to have had her as a teacher can expect a hand written card from her every year. In this digital and fast-paced world, she takes the time to meticulously handwrite each birthday card, adding a special note.

She began the idea while teaching at East Holmes Academy and said,“ I buy the cards by the box, and I keep the birthdays organized by month. I have always wanted my former students to know that they are special and their Birthday should also be special.” Hayes also believes it is a way of teaching life lessons beyond the classroom.

Thousands of miles away or around the globe the cards always reach their destination. With former students scattered everywhere, she has to do her homework to keep up with former students. Hayes uses Facebook to keep up with former students and their addresses. Hayes said, “One of my students is studying in England this year, while another boy just got back from Papaya, New Guinea.”

Former student Laura Shrock and sisters all stay connected to Hayes and still receive her cards. Shrock said, “She sends them to everybody, from the class pet to the class bully. She takes the time to sit down and write a personal message and it’s very special.”

For more than 20 years she has been sending cards and continues to teach her students lessons of love. “I plan to keep doing it, as long as the Lord provides for it. It truly is a joy,“ said Hayes.

Belhaven stands among the select Christian colleges and universities that offer a unique general core curriculum encouraging the development of a personal worldview. The university believes a Christian worldview is a key to preparing men and women academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas.

Founded in 1883, Belhaven University now serves over 3,000 students from campuses in Jackson, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Chattanooga, Atlanta and online, offering traditional undergraduate degrees, graduate and adult degree programs, and online degree programs.


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