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SHINING MOMENTS: THEY CALL HER `MOM'

Myrtle Hoffman has no children of her own, but hundreds of people still call her "Mom."

She has spent a large portion of her 77 years in volunteer service to both the young and aged of Gastonia, N.C., and surrounding Gaston County. "She is one of the best-known and best-loved members of our community," said Bishop Dorsey C. Funderburk of the Gastonia 1st Ward.Thirty years ago, Sister Hoffman saw a need to care for some of the children of her Windy Hill neighborhood, where she also grew up. Many mothers were force by family or economic conditions to work, leaving their young children in the care of elderly grandmothers or with older brothers and sisters who, in turn, would have to stay home from school.

Sister Hoffman responded to the need of her needy friends and neighbors by opening a small child care center. Her volunteer efforts with children during the next 30 years, including leading a drive to raise $75,000 for a permanent child care center, have made a positive impact on the community - and on the hundreds of youngsters who have considered her a second mother.

One of them is James Worthy, who went on to play basketball for the University of North Carolina and now stars for the world champion Los Angeles Lakers. Worthy's mother, Gladis, said her son still asks about Sister Hoffman, according to an artilce in the Gastonia Gazette about "the second mother to hundreds."

One woman who has worked with Sister Hoffman through the years said she has a talent to make each child "feel special - a unique individual that has something to offer everyone."

Sister Hoffman was recently honored by the Gaston County chidren's council for her years of caring for the children of the community. And the day care center for which she raised funds was named in her honor last year.

The elderly have also felt Sister Hoffman's special touch. She directs activities at the Rosewood Rest Home in Gastonia. There, reported Bishop Funderburk, through patient work over several years, Sister Hoffman taught a mentally handicapped man how to speak.

"I wanted to be a real mother, but I was led in a different direction," said Sister Hoffman in the newspaper interview. "I saw so many people drifting."

The same spirit also led Sister Hoffman to the Church which she joined a year ago. She plans a temple trip to Atlanta this spring.