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Birthday benevolence
Children at the Westside Ministries sing their version of “Happy Birthday” to Gladys Mathews, pictured center. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal
When Gladys Mathews turned 95, she announced that she didn’t want any gifts or a big party. She said that she would rather see her family give donations to charity instead.
“I told my daughter I didn’t want a big party. I had one when I was 80, and one when I was 90,” Mathews said.
Mathews said that she was relaxing one day when she felt a calling to donate her birthday funds to Westside Ministries in Turlock.
“I thought ‘hey, why don’t I just do that?’” Mathews said.
She held her 95th birthday party at Covenant Village, where she lives. Guests put their donations in a gift-wrapped box. All six of her children came to the party, along with about 200 other people.
“Literally, they left a box full of money on my desk,” said JoLynn DiGrazia, director of Westside Ministries.
The total amount of money in the box was almost $1,800. JoLynn said that she was very grateful for the support and prayers that Mathews has given to Westside Ministries since they opened their doors.
“It’s an honor to have someone stay with you for 26 years,” DiGrazia said.
DiGrazia invited Mathews and her daughters to Westside Ministries to thank them for the gift. Mathews didn’t want any attention for the donation, so her daughters tricked her into going.
“We just got her in the car and drove her over here. We didn’t say why,” said Sharon Brown, Mathews’ daughter.
Children at the Westside Ministries sang their version of “Happy Birthday” to Mathews and said a personal thank-you for the donation.