What started as a desire to assist elderly and disabled residents has turned into a long-lasting legacy for a service organization and the two women who had the dedication to implement the Lifeline program in Scott County.
Over 30 years ago, the Pilot Club of Scott County decided to offer a program that offered independence to the elderly and disabled, through purchasing the Lifeline personal emergency response system. Mary Allen and Jan Thompson served as the coordinators for the Pilot Club’s program, and worked to obtain this service for Scott County residents for almost three years.
“We felt that this was something that is needed in our community,” Mary Allen was quoted as saying in an article in the Scott County Journal in November 1985.
The Lifeline devices consisted of a small “personal help” button that was worn on a chain around a person’s neck or on a wristband. The unit was attached to a telephone, so pushing a button activated it, which dialed an emergency response center. Through a partnership with Scott Memorial Hospital, when the home unit was activated, a loud signal would sound at the hospital, and then responders could react. This system allowed residents to remain in their homes and have 24-hour access to community medical and social services at the press of a button.
“It’s obvious that this is something the elderly, the disabled, and high medical risk people need most,” shared Jan Thompson in the Journal article.
The Pilot Club received donations from the community and a grant from the Pilot International Foundation to purchase these systems, which they then rented to residents.
“I consider myself so fortunate to have spent so many hours each month with Mary as we traveled the backroads of the county providing this service to elderly and disabled residents,” said Jan. “I love that she never met a stranger, never forgot a face, and was truly interested in the people we helped.”
Over the years, the Pilot Club’s Lifeline program was able to assist many local residents. Mary and Jan discussed establishing a scholarship with the proceeds for quite some time. Throughout their work with the Lifeline program, they would see many nurses over the years make their way up through the nursing pathway, and wanted to find a way to assist those adults with their educational costs.
Mary contacted the Scott County Community Foundation in early August to share her desire to establish a scholarship. When she unexpectedly passed away on Aug. 20, the Pilot Club members decided to fulfill the wishes of Mary and Jan by establishing the Pilot Club Lifeline/Mary Allen and Jan Thompson Healthcare Scholarship. This spring, the first scholarship worth $1,500 will be awarded to an adult who is continuing their education in nursing, as well as those seeking to be a surgery tech, radiology tech or respiratory therapist.
Mary was very passionate about helping others and giving back to the community, so it is only befitting to have a scholarship in her memory to honor the service that she and Jan provided for so many in Scott County. Mary was a charter member of the Pilot Club of Scott County, as well as a member of the Lambda Chi Omega Sorority. She was a very active member of the Scottsburg First Baptist Church for many years and was the church treasurer. To honor her for her work with the Lifeline program, Mary was a recipient of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year Award, and was also a nominee for the Mayor’s Good Neighbor Award.
Mary’s care and concern for the elderly and disabled went beyond the Lifeline program.
“Late in December for many years, we delivered adult Angel Tree Christmas gifts,” remembered Jan. “Mary solicited canned goods to add to the gifts as she knew the need and how the food would be appreciated.”
“We had many of the same interests and enjoyed sharing recipes, sewing techniques, and current educational issues,” shared Jan. “We looked forward to our hours of service since we definitely mixed business with pleasure!”
Mary was also very involved in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. She was a leader for Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, and went to countless sporting events. She taught all of her family how to play golf, as Mary was an avid golfer. She helped organize league events and scrambles at Westwood Golf Course, where she belonged to the ladies league.
Mary worked for the Houston, Thompson and Lewis law firm part-time for many years after she retired as the legal office manager for local lawyer John Dollens. After retiring from Houston, Thompson and Lewis, she enjoyed watching her great-grandson, Hayes Feder, a couple days a week. She even taught him to play golf.
“She didn’t know a stranger and had so many friends and loved ones who cared for her dearly,” shared her granddaughter, Jessica Allen Feder.
Mary is survived by her husband of 60 years, Melvin Allen; her son Terry Allen and his wife Debbie; her daughter, Karen Everett and her husband Dave; her grandchildren Jessica and her husband Kevin; Evan Allen; Ben Everett and his wife Chynelle; Jared Everett; Ryan Everett; and her great-grandson, Hayes.
“It is our hope that Mary’s legacy for helping others and her belief in the community will live on through this scholarship,” said Jessica on behalf of the family. “She was the rock and the light of our family and we hope her spirit shines through this scholarship.”