On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Southern Mutual Help Association honored Assistant Executive Director Sister Helen Vinton for her part in the establishment of the United States Earth Day holiday. In 1970 as a teacher at Ladywood High school in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sister Helen and her student Jill Ruckelshaus recognized the importance of celebrating and preserving the Earth. With the help of other students and Jill’s father Bill Ruckelshaus –then the Assistant Attorney General- worked tirelessly to have the first ever "Earth Day” celebrated in the United States.
After a group lunch and cake celebration, Sister Helen shared stories about getting "Earth Day" off the ground in 1970. From taking her students on canoeing trips in Canada to her current work with fisher families along the gulf coast, Sister Helen has been instrumental in both the state and national environmental movements.