Community service, crochet gives meaning to 100 years of life – The Observer News

By LINDA CHION KENNEY

At Beef O’Brady’s in Apollo Beach earlier this month, a 99-year-old woman received the Spirit of Kiwanis Award from the Hillsborough County Service Group District Governor.
It was an unexpected moment for Helen Mulrennan Young, who turns 100 in February, who “with her gracious heart and positive spirit inspires us all to be better servant leaders and to live our highest and best lives.”
So says the plaque, presented to Young by Karla Nielsen, Kiwanis District 14 Governor. She now hangs proudly in the Brandon home that Young shares with her son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Jo Powell.
“Yeah, I didn’t expect this award, but I know my Kiwanis family appreciates what I do,” Young said. “I’m not physically able to be as active anymore, but I sit here and use my hands and crochet.”

Crocheted by Helen Mulrennan Young, the Afghan who raised $1,000 for her Kiwanis family’s community service

And she crochets, with an impact that goes far beyond the confines of her club and her community. For decades, Young has crocheted baby blankets and hats for the homeless, cancer fighters, her Cornerstone Baptist Church family, newborns and, through the Linus Project, for newcomers. -born born into low-income families.
Recently, one of her crochet blankets brought in $1,000 for the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, which in recent years has sponsored a club in Riverview that has now folded into the parent club.
“Every year for the past several years, I’ve been making Crochet Afghans for the Kiwanis Golf Tournament to bring in some money,” Young said of the annual tournament, which will be held this year on Oct. 27 at Buckhorn Golf & Country. Valrico club. “It really touched me that my little hands could do something that could bring in a thousand dollars for the club. It gives me such joy.
The youngest of eight children, Young will celebrate her 100th birthday on February 27. She carries the torch for her older brother, John, who as state entomologist for some 40 years has devoted his life to the study of insects, and for his eldest. sister, Annie Mae, who was a secretary before taking over home affairs when her mother died. Sister Margaret was a US Army nurse during World War II and her brother Frank served in the US Coast Guard during the same war. A US Marine for 24 years, his brother Timothy served in World War II and in Korea.
Joseph “Jody” Mulrennan, who was active in community affairs and served as president of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, which he helped establish in 1959 for businesses then in the communities of Greater Brandon and Riverview, completes brother clan.
When asked to get poetic about the secrets of a long life, Helen Young talks about the faith she practices, the food she eats, the holistic medical care she receives, and the community service that keeps her engaged.
“I believe the reason I have longevity is because I kept my body active and my mind involved,” Young said. “It’s very rewarding to do things in the community and to know that you are doing something to help others rather than staying home and doing nothing.”
Even today, while she still can, Young attends meetings of the Kiwanis club that her brother Bud helped found in 1960. In 1966, Young was working at the restaurant where the club held its meetings. When his son, Jim Powell, became president of the club in 2000, Young in turn became a member. Kiwanis International first welcomed female members in 1987.
“It’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done because Kiwanis has a special place in my heart,” Young said, noting the club’s focus on helping children. “It gave me opportunities in my later years to be able to do things and go places that I would never have done.”
Over the years, Young has seen many changes, including the naming of Mulrennan Middle School in Valrico, which sits on land his family once owned.
“Growing up in Hillsborough County, it was all citrus, farming and livestock,” Young said. “This whole area was agriculture. And seeing all of this turn into housing and more and more people and more and more traffic and congestion, that’s just [unsettling].”

Helen Mulrennan Young, 99, holds the award she received for her Kiwanis service.

Unbreakable, however, is Young’s foundation in faith, friendships and service, which has taken her through two marriages, a battle with cancer with melanoma and the funerals of loved ones and loved ones.
“My advice is to think of others and be thankful and thankful for what you have and keep a positive attitude no matter how bleak things may get,” Young said. “If you’re negative about everything all the time, it just destroys your body and makes you sick.”
Indeed, that’s easier said than done, said Young, who noted that in her youth she worried “about everything, finances, etc.”
“All of this kept me under stress,” Young added. “It didn’t change anything, so now I don’t worry anymore. If it has to happen, it will happen. If there is something I can do, I do it, but if not, I leave it in God’s hands.

Norma P. Rex