By Priscilla Payne Hurd
Before she married my father, my mother taught kindergarten in the Hull House district of Chicago. Her experiences as a young teacher, which she shared with me, profoundly impacted me and cemented my personal value system which I have strived to adhere to throughout my life.
Hull House, founded in 1889 by social worker Jane Addams, along with Ellen Gates Starr, was one of the first social settlements in the United States and continues its mission today as one of Chicago's oldest and largest social and human service agencies, annually serving more than 60,000 people.
As I was growing up, my mother often spoke of her teaching experiences. When I was 12, she took me to Hull House. A wise woman, my mother wanted me to see and to meet the children who came to Hull House for help, children who were far less fortunate than I was. I was struck by the vast gulf that separated me from the settlement children. While I had never lacked for food, clothing or shelter -- not to mention the love of a nurturing family and ready access to the best that life had to offer in education, health care and the arts -- these children struggled on a daily basis to secure the basic necessities of life. Here I am, standing before you decades later, and I can tell you I have never forgotten the overwhelming sense of unfairness I felt as I met these children who had suffered so much and had so little.
[Download the talk Mrs. Priscilla Payne Hurd gave at the 15th annual Souper Day Luncheon to benefit New Bethany Ministries, October 16, 2007, at the Candlelight Reception and Conference Center.]