BUENA VISTA, Va. — Sharlet Rowley Bouchelle was commended by the General Assembly of Virginia for her service as Virginia Mother of the Year on March 9. Bouchelle, from Buena Vista, Va., has been serving in that capacity for the past year.
Bouchelle and her family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attend the Rockbridge Ward, Buena Vista Virginia Stake. She is currently serving as the stake Relief Society president. Bouchelle is the wife of Joe Bouchelle and the mother of four children. Their eldest son, Joseph, is currently serving in the California Roseville Mission.
“I am so grateful that time was taken by these elected officials to acknowledge the important role of motherhood," Bouchelle said. "Strong moms do strengthen families, and anything we can do to support and encourage mothers is worthwhile."
Bouchelle was chosen by American Mothers, Inc., to serve as the 2011 Mother of the Year for Virginia. American Mothers, Inc. — a nonprofit, interfaith organization founded in 1933, provides educational, cultural and spiritual programs for mothers of all ages and backgrounds — annually selects state and national mothers of the year and promotes the role of mother as a building block of society.
Bouchelle recognized the role her faith plays in her life as a mother.
"As a Latter-day Saint woman, I am often humbled by the eternal significance of my responsibilities as a parent, but I am also constantly grateful for the strength and support the gospel brings," Bouchelle said. "The knowledge that I, and all women, am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father is a continual means of support and encouragement. The influence of righteous women can never be underestimated, and I believe we must help and support each other along the way."
She also acknowledged her gratitude for the the support of the greater community in praising and honoring motherhood.
"I am grateful to the many men and women of all faiths who are working hard to remind society that motherhood is indeed a sacred and vital role that should be honored, uplifted and protected," she said. "There is no greater joy in my life than the hope that my family can be eternally together, and that perspective helps me as I experience the joys and also the daily challenges of mothering.”
When Bouchelle recieved a phone call from the head of the mother of the year search committee in Virginia saying that she had been nominated, she was surprised.
"I was very surprised and, of course, immediately the names of at least 10 women I know ran through my mind. I wrote those names down and said I would like to submit them to the search committee," Bouchelle said. "These were women who I have known for a very long time. Each one is an amazing example — some are foster parents, some are very active in civic affairs, some have overcome enormous challenges in life."
Instead of accepting, Bouchelle gave the list to the Virginia Chapter president, Annelle Doxey, in the hopes of finding a more suitable honoree.
"(Doxey) kindly looked over my list and said something like, ‘Well, I’m sure these are all fine mothers. In fact, we’ve even discussed a few of them, but we just feel really good about asking you to do this. Would you please consider it?’" Bouchelle recalled. "I just kept repeating that I don’t do anything super special — I’m just a regular mom."
Still, Bouchelle considered the offer.
"After she left, I consulted with my husband and children and, of course, spent some time praying and pondering over the decision. The final answers came as I discussed it with my stake president, who said, ‘That’s a great opportunity. How could you not do it?’" Bouchelle said. "So with the support and encouragement of my family and priesthood leaders, I accepted."
Although it took some getting used to, Bouchelle says she has been pleased with the opportunities that the recognition has provided to shine a light on all mothers.
"I am very humbled by the experience and only became comfortable with it as I realized that I could help represent the many thousands of ‘every moms’ throughout Virginia — the ones who get up every day and do what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly in their families and communities," she said. "They deserve recognition and gratitude every day, not just on Mother’s Day, and it is on their behalf that I have served this past year. To have our Virginia General Assembly pause for a moment and acknowledge the contributions made by the ‘every moms’ has been a wonderful conclusion to my efforts over the past year.”
Sherri Wheeler is a preschool teacher and the public affairs specialist in the Buena Vista Virginia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org