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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

A Servant Heart From Mom

Updated: May 12

By Chris Overman

As a mother and special education teacher, Abby Terwey of Hastings, Nebraska, inspires her own children and her students to lead with a servant’s heart. “My life’s passion is helping others,” Abby said. “And through my children, students, and others we influence, we can keep that spirit of giving alive.”  

When Abby’s daughter Olivia was in the third grade, a devastating house fire took the lives of one of her classmates and two of their siblings, and seriously injured other family members. That experience left an impression on Olivia’s tender young heart and soul.

 A few years later, Olivia began competing in beauty and talent pageants, and she chose to commit to helping educate others about the importance of fire prevention and safety. “My life-altering experience with the house fire and my dad’s work as a firefighter led me in that direction,” Olivia said. “I wanted to do something along those lines, so I asked my mom for guidance.”

Abby reached out to her local Red Cross chapter to learn more about the Home Fire Campaign, which is a Red Cross initiative dedicated to reducing fire-related deaths and injuries. On average, home fires claim seven lives per day in the United States, but having working smoke alarms can cut that risk of death in half. The Red Cross gives volunteers the opportunity to install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety education to communities. Abby and Olivia knew it would be a perfect fit for their mother-daughter duo.

“When I was in junior high and high school, my mom had to go with me when I provided education and installed smoke detectors,” Olivia said. “It was so much fun collaborating with her on these projects. We developed a special bond over many years while putting our servant hearts into action in a meaningful and lasting way.”

Olivia is now a sophomore in college. She is a biology major and on the pre-dental track. While she is grown and planning for her future, she still enjoys serving her community with her mom.

“With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I am grateful for this opportunity to thank my mom and dad for the gifts of guidance, support and role modeling that give me the skills and courage to compete and contribute with confidence and humility," Olivia said.  

Like the Terweys, you can also serve your community alongside the American Red Cross. To learn more about Red Cross volunteer initiative, visit

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