STRONG — In Elaine Allen’s eyes, she’s no different than any other mother but family and friends see her as a successful and loving parent.

This Strong mother of six, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of five, is Maine’s Mother of the Year for 2010 and will represent Maine at the American Mothers National Convention in New York City at the end of the month.

Each state sends their own Mother of the Year where one will be chosen as the national Mother of the Year.

“It’s most humbling. I don’t like this type of thing,” she said but then a friend told her to have fun with it and she realized “God meant for me to represent all mothers of Maine when I go to New York.”

Unlike other pageants there’s no talent competition but she does have to give a speech, and during the Saturday night banquet at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel each mother will be introduced state by state.

The nomination for the state honor meant compiling a 28-page, detailed portfolio including a biography and letters of recommendation from her children and church, school and government representatives.

“It’s been the best part of the whole thing. Reading what my children have written that I never would haven known,” she said, as her eyes began to water.

Each of her children, two girls and four boys, the oldest 50 and the youngest 39, remembered the mother who supported all their activities, encouraged them with “you can do anything you put your mind to” and taught them to accept everybody.

“Her willingness to accept people for who they are no matter their circumstances was a gift Mom showed daily. Through faith, understanding and prayer we were shown how to find the positives that every person is given,” wrote one child.

Mothering was something she’s enjoyed. It came early for her, married at 16 it made her question “What is a mother? What is a good mother?” she said.

“It’s not about money. It’s what you do with them,” she said of the time she and her husband of 50-years, Lendell, spent camping with their children and attending their activities. The couple wanted all six to go to college and they did. Now they are active, loving people and have done well, she said.

Living what she believes and has taught her children, Allen, a retired nurse who became an RN at age 50, first becoming an LPN after her mother-in-law retired and could take care of the youngest children.

She also worked in the local school’s lunch program and developed an interest in quantity cooking. Since retiring, she’s developed her own business, Allen Homestead Bakery, creating breads to sell in her daughter’s business, the White Elephant, where she works one day a week in the office, she said.

An active lay-leader for her church, the Strong United Methodist Church, she sings in the choir, leads a women’s group and has taught Sunday School. Allen paused from her work preparing refreshments for two funerals this week, planning an Easter breakfast at the church and Easter dinner for about 25-family members, to talk about her life and to also help a grandson with a science project.

“She packs more into a day than anyone I know,” said Judith Hubley, wife of the church’s pastor, Gary. The couple nominated Allen for Mother of the Year.

“She’s a concerned, faithful person, active in the community. She has a giving spirit and will drop everything to help someone in need. … If there is a need, she’ll find a way to do it. It’s just the way she handles people and children. She’s extremely talented and creative,” Hubley said.

“She’ll also drop everything if one of her grandchildren has a ball game,” she added.

Allen has become a member of American Mothers, a group based around the Waterville area. Meeting monthly they create quilts for hospital baby units and the elderly. Their philosophy is to help, she said.

An interfaith, non-political organization, American Mothers is “for men and women who recognize the important role of motherhood through educational programs and community outreach,” according to their Web site.

Celebrating their 75th anniversary of honoring mothers who’ve made a difference, the first National Mother of the Year was chosen in 1935. The organization also chooses an annual Young Mother of the Year and is the official sponsor of Mother’s Day.

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