Announcing the Phyllis Blum Cole Award for Social Service

At the recent American Literature Association 2018 Conference, Margaret Fuller Society Members Jana L. Argersinger and Noelle A. Baker presented Past President Phyllis Cole with the Inaugural Phyllis Blum Cole Award for Social Service. Read their speech presenting Cole with the award below.

Noelle Baker, Phyllis Cole, and Jana Argersinger
Left to Right: Noelle Baker, Phyllis Cole holding award, and Jana Argersinger; Photo courtesy of Katie Kornacki

“Before we turn to other forward-looking matters, we should acknowledge our Past President for her inspiring leadership and immense drive, which have brought the Fuller Society into its second quarter-century.

As most of you know, Phyllis Cole in her three-year term directed a remarkable renovation of the Society.  She leaves us a notable legacy:  a greatly expanded membership and enhanced bank-account; a new, exciting website; a stimulating newsletter; Society presence on social media; a revised governance structure that reflects the new roles required by all these renovations; and renewed status at the annual MLA Convention.

In what I may hazard is perhaps the achievement dearest to her heart, Phyllis established the Society’s outreach into social action by forging a connection with the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House in Cambridge, MA.  You will recall that this community-based nonprofit with a century-old mission is housed in Fuller’s girlhood home.  It serves to provide a wide variety of programs to underprivileged families and individuals in the community, while in the process serving as well to propagate Fuller’s social ideals.

To honor Phyllis‘s achievement and to keep the memory of it alive, the Executive Council has voted to establish the Phyllis Blum Cole Award for Social Service.  The award will be given every three years to a Society Member that the Council recognizes as having worked in some significant way to promulgate the social ideals advanced by Margaret Fuller.  It is to take the form of a donation to the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House and a plaque to the recipient, engraved with one of Phyllis‘s favorite quotes from Fuller, taken from her December 1844 Tribune piece “Thanksgiving”: “No home can be healthful in which are not cherished seeds of good for the world at large.” As Fuller suggests in this article, the authentic spirit of that holiday is embodied in ever-widening acts of kindness and charity; these acts, in Fuller’s words,  “depend upon the great circle” of family, neighbors, friends, and society. We thank Phyllis for setting the standard for our own circle.

It is my great pleasure to announce that the first recipient of this award is Phyllis Cole.”

Phyllis Blum Cole Award for Social Service
Photo courtesy of Katie Kornacki

Featured image of Phyllis Cole holding award courtesy of Jana L. Argersinger.