Meet the Lee family: Hosting Distinguished Young Women
by Bettie Marlowe
Jul 18, 2012 | 1204 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE LEE FAMILY welcomed Autumn Berry and Angelica Fultz, contestants in the Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program, to their home Sunday as DYW activities got under way for the state competition. From left are son Sam, Esmerelda and daughter, Ellie, Andrew and son Caleb. Banner photo, WILLIAM WRIGHT
THE LEE FAMILY welcomed Autumn Berry and Angelica Fultz, contestants in the Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program, to their home Sunday as DYW activities got under way for the state competition. From left are son Sam, Esmerelda and daughter, Ellie, Andrew and son Caleb. Banner photo, WILLIAM WRIGHT
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This is the first year for Andrew and Esmerelda Lee to be a host family for the Distinguished Young Women program. Esmerelda said she heard about it from friends and how they enjoyed having the girls in their homes.

Autumn Nicole Berry of Knox County and Angelica Fultz of Williamson County are their special guests this week as the DYW activities get under way.

Berry attends Gibbs High School and aspires to be an elementary education teacher. She will either go to the University of Tennessee or Vanderbilt. In high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society, was a Gibbs High majorette and was an elementary peer tutor. She is involved in the Clear Springs Baptist Church youth ministries and is a Random Acts of Christina Kindness volunteer. She is a member of the Spanish National Honor Society. Her talent is baton twirling. Berry has selected “Hala/Walking on Sunshine Medley” by Glee by Ryan Tedder and Kimberly Rew.

Fultz attends Centennial High School and her career goal is to be a veterinarian. She will attend either Auburn University, Purdue or Cornell. She enjoys singing country music and her talent will be a vocal presentation of “There You’ll Be” theme from “Pearl Harbor” by Diane Warren. She writes an advice column for her school newspaper and volunteers at Happy Tales Humane. She is learning to play the guitar and also is learning photography.

During their stay with the Lees, the girls are being treated to gifts from their “host mom” — different things for different days. The Lees had a spa basket for each of them when they arrived at the home Sunday and, on Monday, they were each given a journal so they could record the exciting times this week.

Mrs. Lee, the daughter of missionaries to South Africa, came to Cleveland to attend Lee University in 1992. She and Andrew married 14 years ago. Her husband, a native of Cleveland, teaches at Lee University. The Lees have three children: two sons, Caleb, 13, and Sam, 10, and daughter Elyssa “Ellie,” 2.

She has worked for Life Care of America 12 years — “my first and only job,” she added.

“I love living in Cleveland, Lee said. “Everyone is so friendly and welcoming — typical of Cleveland.” And seeing how her friends enjoyed being host families in previous years, she decided she, too, wanted to be a “host mom.”

Esmerelda Lee said it was a pay-it-forward kind of thing. When she was at Lee, many times during holidays and summers, Cleveland families would invite her to share their homes. “I was treated like family — like a daughter,” she said. So when this opportunity came, “I remembered the sweet people who took me in,” and knew this was something she wanted to do.

“I’ve never done this before,” Lee said, “but it’s a wonderful opportunity for my children to meet the girls.” She said she hoped as time is spent with them, they will be inspired by the leadership qualities in the DYW contestants.

“And it’s so much fun,” Lee added.