Tiny with a Loving Heart
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On January 1st, 1934, in Kansas City Kansas, the New Year in the Everett household began with the birth of a tiny miracle. Helen Elizabeth, (nick-named “Tiny”), weighed in at a mere 2 1/2 pounds. Clearly an incubator baby by today’s standards, during this time, there was none available. However, her fight against the odds of survival was successful. This was accomplished with the love and support of not only her parents, Goldie Nathaniel and Irene Elizabeth Reaves Everett, but as the youngest of eight children, she was also nurtured by her elder brothers; Paul and Brooks and sisters Irene, Brydie, Naomi, Hortense and Albertine.
As a young child, Helen was very serious about life, and displayed huge concern for the well- being of others. Her smile was a treasure rarely shared, but rightfully earned by those willing to work hard to improve their immediate circumstances. She demonstrated leadership qualities as a young girl scout. Helen could be seen early Sunday mornings going door to door picking up neighborhood children to take with her to Sunday school. During this time she attended Keeling and Stole elementary schools. After graduating from Northeast Junior High School, she attended one year at Sumner High School, before her father’s health began to deteriorate. Due to the severity of his health and because her education was a top priority to her father, the allowance was made for Helen to leave Kansas City and continue her education in Up State New York with her sister Hortense.
After previously attending only all black schools, she graduated with Honors from Dunkirk High School, in which there were only 4 other black students in the entire student body of 5,000. While there, she also gained recognition as the school’s first black Majorette. She credited her early success, to the strong community upbringing she received from her church, “Church of Ascension”, and of her family and friends. The Everett children were raised to not allow negative racial commentaries, nor the racial intimidations they endured, to prevent them from their pursuits for formal education.
After graduating from high school, she moved to Brooklyn, New York to live with her brother Paul and attended Brooklyn College and received her first bachelor’s degree in Sociology, before completing her formal education with a second degree in nursing. Initially she specialized in cardiac surgery, attaining a supervisory position of pediatrics at St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception Hospital.
On October 8th, 1955, she married a funeral director named Arthur R. Elcock. They were blessed with the births of Arthur II., an independent computer specialist in Portland Oregon, and Irene Elizabeth, manager of Elcock Funeral Home, Inc. While raising their children and working in their respective positions, Helen and Arthur shared a dream of owning their own business. This dream was realized in 1974, when they became the proud owners of Elcock Funeral Home, Inc. in Richmond Hill, New York.
Despite Helen’s subsequent successes, she did not allow them to interfere with her firm belief in giving to back to community through philanthropic endeavors to those in need of various forms of assistance. She was not only a tremendous source of assistance to the concerns regarding extended family members, and to her immediate community, but was also known to help uplift young people both inside and out of the United States. Her philanthropy lead her to visit every state in the U.S. She visited Mexico, Greece, Turkey, The Holy Land in Israel, The Caribbean Islands, The Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Ghana.
As a member of St. James The-Less Parish, in Queens New York, and as a member of the Episcopal Women’s Association, she worked tirelessly on a multitude of youth empowerment projects. In addition, she created several committees and workshops teaching life-skills for success, for the uplifting of young people both in and out of her country. She sponsored, organized, and financed empowerment conferences, field trips and seminars such as “The African American Movement Project”, which highlighted African American concerns, organizations, inventors, and universal political activism. The young people lucky enough to have received her mentorship have gone on to complete degrees in fields ranging from the health sciences to electrical engineering.
Her various community activities also included memberships to several organizations that enhanced the lives in Africa. One such organization was The National Association Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (NANBPW) The Laurelton Club. She was a member of their International Committee, and coordinated their trips to Ghana, where they adopted an entire village. While there, the Elcock family assisted in building and donating a community water well, and a giant community oven. The village was also gifted clothing, school uniforms, educational materials and a variety of teaching aids. Not only did The Laurelton Club, adopt the village; they also adopted 3 native Ghana children, who remained with their village.
After retiring from 35 years as a registered nurse, Helen enjoyed spending quality time with her 3 grandchildren, Stephen, Malcolm, and Danielle. Always one to enjoy a good hearty laugh, her serious nature and treasured smile remained constant throughout her life. Later they could be traded for a big hug from her loved ones. Although Helen was small in stature, nothing about her contributions to a life guided in philanthropy, yielded small results. When at the age of 5, her granddaughter said it best, “Why call her ‘Tiny’? Grandma has a big heart!”
Helen is survived by her children, Arthur and Irene; sister, Albertine; grandchildren, Stephen, Malcolm and Danielle; her great grandchildren, Kendall, Logan, Darius and Larenz; brother-in-law, Asim; sister-in-law, Betty; a host of nieces, nephews, and her be loved club sisters The Laurelton Club of the NANBPW.