Person of the Week
Tess Taft Cowan Edge Hopes to Spread Holiday Cheer
It’s not too soon to decorate the tree when you’re designing 12 trees to be auctioned off for charity. Tess Taft Cowan Edge of Clinton has joined with Roxanne Seifert Eurto, Sue Melchior, Sue Engel, and Becky Eliot Keating to form the the Semper Humanitas 12 Trees of Kindness effort. (Photo courtesy of Tess Taft Cowan Edge)
Tess Taft Cowan Edge, Roxanne Seifert Eurto, Sue Melchior, Sue Engel, and Becky Eliot Keating are the women behind the the Semper Humanitas 12 Trees of Kindness effort. (Photo courtesy of Tess Taft Cowan Edge)
Serving others has something that has long been important to Clinton native Tess Taft Cowan Edge. Now, Tess is hoping to spread some holiday cheer and kindness with her 12 Trees of Kindness auction.
Whether it was serving her country for 30 years in the Air Force or watching over her siblings, helping has always been something important to Tess.
“My mother raised me to care for others,” explains Tess.
For her latest idea, Tess and four other volunteers came up with the Semper Humanitas 12 Trees of Kindness. The group is decorating 12 different Christmas trees that will then be auctioned off. The proceeds will then go to 12 different charities. To view and bid on the trees, visit rb.gy/osah99.
In addition to the trees for sale, Tess says that there will also be what’s called a Kindness Boutique where extra goods are sold.
“We’ll have a bake sale and we have a bit of extra ornaments and things like that to sell too,” says Tess. “I’ve always wanted to decorate trees and auction them off.”
While she was stationed in Utah, Tess says she noticed that out there this kind of event is very popular.
“They do it real big out there,” Tess says with a chuckle.
Tess says the charities that will benefit from the auction are a mix of local and international.
“They’re all ones we believe in, we vetted, and I’ve worked with,” Tess notes. “Everything has been donated so all the money from the auction will be going to charity.”
The themes of the trees vary greatly, from sea shells to cookie themes. Tess is quick to point out that it wasn’t just her who worked on the trees. Roxanne Seifert Eurto, Sue Melchior, Sue Engel, and Becky Eliot Keating worked with Tess on the project.
“I’m not person of the week—we should be team of the week!” Tess stresses. “All these ladies are amazing volunteers.”
Asked her favorite part about working on the 12 Trees of Kindness, Tess again mentions the other four women and the fellowship they have found over the summer.
“The five hearts coming tougher to these one-of-a-kind creations. I was concerned a little at first about how it would turn out, but everyone has a different gift they bring to the table,” says Tess.
On the hardest part of making the trees, Tess says, “It takes a lot longer to make and decorate than we thought it would.”
Tess credits her church with helping her give back. For years, her church has helped out with a sister church in Rwanda. Eventually Tess was able to travel to the country to volunteer which she says “changed her life.” In particular, Tess was struck by how the people in Rwanda were so appreciative with any amount of help given their way.
Tess says the church tries to provide items to Rwanda that help the community be self-sustaining.
“It’s just the greatest,” says Tess.
Working on the trees isn’t the only way Tess and her husband Allan have made their presence felt in Clinton. Tess and Allan have also been working to restore the house at 63 Pratt Road, which was once was known as the Pratt Mansion.
“We accidentally made a turn down Pratt by mistake when we saw the house and said, ‘Whoa what is that?!,” Tess recalls of seeing the house the first time.
The house, thought once glorious and full of beautiful woodwork, had fallen into disrepair. Tess and Allen bought it and have been working on it since.
“My husband is a woodworker and he’s doing 90 percent of the work himself,” says Tess.
Tess originally grew up in Clinton on Airline Road and graduated from The Morgan School. However, not every memory of Clinton is a positive one.
“We were the poorest family in Clinton,” Tess says with emotion.
Tess remembers growing up in a house that had a dirt floor and no indoor plumbing.
“I babysat as much as I could and I saved up for a better way of life,” Tess says.
Tess also remembers spending a lot of time at church where she was able to make friends and do activities for free since her family didn’t have the money for her to join clubs.
“The church really saved me,” she says.
Tess also credits serving in the Air Force with being a positive influence on her life.
“Joining the Air Force was the greatest thing I did,” says Tess.
Tess served in the Air Force from the ‘70s to 2005.
Nowadays Tess and her husband split their time between Arizona and Clinton.
“I wanted to be close to my mother, father, and sisters,” says Tess. “We love the small-town feel, we love the trees around here, and we love giving back,” Tess says.