POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—The Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC) recently honored Alison Church Hyde, Vassar class of 1959, with the Spirit of Vassar Award during the college’s annual Reunion weekend in June. Each year an individual or group is chosen by the AAVC for this honor for volunteer efforts that “exemplify an enduring spirit of community and caring, and recognize an outstanding commitment to Vassar or another community.”
“Alison was chosen for this award because of her dual commitment to Vassar, but also to the world at large,” noted Patricia Duane Lichtenberg '90, executive director of the AAVC.
A resident of East Aurora, NY, Hyde has described herself as “a freelance educator and volunteer.” She majored in art history at Vassar and received a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. Her involvement in advocacy and betterment for children and families through education has ranged from her work as a kindergarten teacher to an educational resource consultant to serving as a member of the board of directors of the New York State School Boards Association.
Hyde’s desire and commitment to help others extended to Kenya, where she and her husband, Arthur, co-founded the Crossroads Springs Institute of Hamisi in 2004 with their Kenyan friend Dr. Meschack Isiaho. Dr. Isiaho had related his plan to help rescue children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS, and rather than just donate funds to support his efforts, Hyde decided to become involved in establishing a school. She returned to Africa—where she and her husband had volunteered in the early 1960s—to help build an educational and care center for the hundreds of children who had orphaned by AIDS in that area of Kenya.
Today, the Crossroads Springs Institute provides health services, nourishment, care, and an education to the Kenyan orphans, providing an environment that fosters future leadership and strength for Kenya. The Institute, now in its fifth year, has an enrollment of 250 people.
Hyde is also dedicated to Vassar – and all her children attended the college as well. She and her husband have been supportive of a variety of projects at the college through the years.
Hyde noted that: “The spirit of Vassar has been prevalent in my work and in my life.” Her advice for others is: “Take risks! Serve! Think outside the box!”
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.