2018 Distinguished Alumna Award - Valerie Hebel McNeece ’66

Mercy High School is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award, Valerie Hebel McNeece ’66. Dr. Cheryl Delaney Kreger ’66 will present Valerie with the award at Tea for Tuition on April 22, 2018.

Valerie has made a difference in the lives of countless people, while exemplifying the Mercy values of Human Dignity, Mercy, Justice, Service, and Option for the Poor. Her humble and kind nature inspires the community around her, both locally with students and parishioners and abroad with her mission work in Haiti. Valerie (left) is pictured with Sabrina Charles ’11 and Marla Huber Smith ’69 on a 2017 mission trip to Haiti.

Valerie began her career as an art teacher. She then earned a graduate degree in special education and spent the majority of her career supporting students with special needs. Her love for helping students and her ability to connect with them has made a positive impact on children for more than four decades.

Valerie has long continued her passion for art through photography and has won many awards for her images that tell the story of the Haitian people. Her photographs were part of the national women’s art show “From Our Perspective” (2010, 2011, 2013) and were shown locally in a juried show in Birmingham, Michigan called “Our Town Art” (2002-2017). Valerie and her husband, Bill, have exhibited in Plymouth, Michigan (2010, 2013) and at the Farmington, Michigan City Hall (2005). Valerie also exhibited her images at the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

For 20 years, Valerie has held Haiti Outreach Mission (HOM) close to her heart. She is a long-standing volunteer and currently serves as an Executive Committee member. She travels frequently to perform missionary work in the city of Mirebalais, whose residents have a desperate need for clean water and basic medical and dental care. Valerie has helped build a medical clinic, school, and water well for the community. Leading by example, Valerie donates all proceeds from her photographic prints to HOM. She further advances the organization’s mission by assisting in the fundraising dinner for HOM at her parish, Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Detroit, where she serves on the Environmental and Social Justice Committees.

Valerie’s philosophy is, “Take your talents beyond yourself and give the talents to the global community. Hopefully, we will discover our common needs and desires are not so different from one another.”

A family member remarked, “Valerie…exemplifies the character of a distinguished Mercy High School alumna…not only because of the countless amounts of selfless acts and her generous giving, but because of her daily grace and determination to make the world a better place.”

Valerie attended Schoolcraft College, Eastern Michigan University, and Wayne State University. She earned a Bachelor degree in Art and Education, two Master degrees in Curriculum and Special Education, and an Educational Specialist degree.

Take a look at Valerie’s photography here.

Learn more about Haiti Outreach Mission at http://www.haitioutreachmission.org/

Distinguished Alumna Recipients