Walter Maine (59C)
Award: 2013 Distinguished Service Award
Achievements: In both his volunteer service and his professional life, Walter Maine (59C) adopted Berry’s motto, “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” as his personal motto. He attributed much of his successful career in national defense to the work ethics and work habits that were formed at Berry.
To the benefit of children throughout Northwest Florida, Walter held true to his motto when he was approached by his friend and classmate Mack Gay (59C) about taking a role in Children in Crisis, Inc., a non-profit group dedicated to providing homes and hope to abused children in the area. Walter’s response was to create and chair the Faith Community Committee, which, under Walter’s leadership, became the volunteer support arm for the operation side of Children in Crisis.
Because Children in Crisis is a faith-focused organization, Walter was committed to involving area churches and church leaders in the process of mentoring and teaching the children the group served. He spent much of his time developing contacts within the faith community throughout the four western most counties of Florida.
Walter said he “learned on the job” to develop a well-organized and faithful system of volunteers. In 2005, five churches supported the organization. As of 2012, there were more than 60 churches involved, many of which invite the children to their weekly services. The churches also regularly hold food and clothing drives and recruit volunteers for tutoring.
He considered it one of his greatest accomplishments stemming from his work with Children in Crisis and the Faith Community Committee that some of the children began attending church two or three times per week.
In 2006, Walter began recruiting church involvement for the Children’s Neighborhood, a community of foster homes and transitional homes developed by Children in Crisis. In 2007, he planned what became the first annual Children in Crisis Faith Community Appreciation Day. Children in Crisis hosted 75 members of the local faith community, with many becoming supporters on the spot. He planned six similar annual events for the next five years.
Today, 130-140 meals and snacks are prepared daily at the Children’s Neighborhood using food donated by members of the faith community that Walter fostered. Clothing, toiletries, paper goods and cleaning supplies are also donated by the faith community.
Walter said his most meaningful reward for his service to the children was “the laughter and joy of seven children playing with their siblings and other children like ‘normal’ kids, two days after being removed from the worst living conditions imaginable.”
Walter also considered it a great privilege to serve Berry by supporting the student work program along with his wife, Latha Coleman Maine (59C). In addition to financial support of the program, he conceived a model for Berry students to gain experience by working with the foster children. As a result, five Berry students served as interns at the Children’s Neighborhood in the summer of 2012.
He further worked to recruit potential Berry students in Northwest Florida and arranged for a Berry admissions officer to make presentations to pastors and youth leaders across north Okaloosa County. He also worked with Don Stinson, president of Berry’s Emerald Coast Alumni Chapter to increase participation of Northwest Florida alumni with Berry.
“I consider my service to Berry a privilege and, in a small way, giving back to the institution to which I owe so much,” Walter said.
In his personal life, Walter enjoyed spending time with his daughter and son-in-law, Tonya Maine Lawrence and Matthew Lawrence, and grandson, Seth Lawrence.
After being nominated for the Distinguished Service Award, Mr. Walter O. Maine passed away in December 2012.