Skip to main content

Holladay Journal

Celebrating the mother of all holidays with stories about moms

May 07, 2019 01:25PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton combatted the grief of losing her mother by hosting a Mother’s Day 2012 gathering for other women who had lost their mothers. L-R on top row — Valerie Colby, Steffany Forrest, Tonya Ferrin, Leslie Haberle, Marlene Woolley, Judy Von Gunten. Bottom row — Amy Winder Newton, Julie Newton, Margo Colegrove, Linda Hermansen, Cheryl Cottle, Tami Larsen. (Photo Credit Aimee Winder Newton)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

Happy Mother’s Day, Salt Lake County!

In the stories below, The City Journals shares various ways people throughout the valley celebrate Mother’s Day.

An ‘incredibly therapeutic… Mother’s Day that I will never forget’

The already somber 9-11 date was forever more deeply darkened for Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, with the news that her mother had died in a car accident Sept. 11, 2011. 

“The pain was deep and the loss was so sudden that it was incredibly hard to process,” she recalled. “I knew my first Mother's Day without my mom would be painful, so I decided to be proactive.”

The weekend before Mother's Day in 2012, the resilient leader whom Republican power brokers are now encouraging to run for governor in 2020, invited women who had lost their mothers to come to a Mother’s Day luncheon at her Taylorsville home.

“I had people from my neighborhood, work and both sides of my family,” she noted. “We enjoyed lunch together and then went around the room and each of us showed a photo of our mom. It was incredibly therapeutic and a Mother’s Day that I will never forget.”

The badge of motherhood

“When I was growing up, Mother’s Day was exciting for me and my siblings. It gave us an opportunity to show our mother how much we loved and appreciated her,” reflected Salt Lake County Sheriff and Riverton resident Rosie Rivera. 

Rivera “started to not enjoy Mother’s Day so much” after the untimely passing of her mother at the young age of 52. “I was left with an emptiness that I could not fill,” she said.

“This feeling changed once I became a police officer 26 years ago,” she said, and then asked herself the rhetorical question, “Why the change?”

The answer from Utah’s only female sheriff and the sheriff responsible for the state’s most populous county is profound: “I have seen mothers who have lost a son or daughter in a tragedy, such as a drug overdose or a car accident, and the loss is incredible. I have seen mothers go to jail and not have the opportunity to spend the day with their children. I have seen the unconditional love mothers have for their children — regardless of their life choices — and I have seen the sacrifices mothers have made for their children. These experiences have made me appreciate Mother’s Day for the special day that it is.”

Muumuu for Mama: a colorful Mother’s Day in Samoa

The 2019 “Project Runway” contestant and Salt Lake City designer Afa Ah Loo has fond memories of a special Mother’s Day, that occurred almost 20 years ago in a village more than 5,000 miles away. 

To celebrate Mother’s Day 2002, the then 16-year old Ah Loo engaged both his biological mother and his grandmother, who reared him from birth and whom he refers to as his mother, in commemorating the holiday. 

Ah Loo’s biological mother took him to the store to purchase the fabric he would use to then sew a colorful muumuu. 

The gown would prove to be an early prototype for the designer’s “Amioga Samoa” fashion line, which took the Fiji Fashion Week by storm in 2018, which in turn, led to his being cast for Bravo’s current season of the reality TV “Project Runway” series, where clothing is design/produced/modeled in short timeframes by contestants looking for their big break into the fashion industry.

American Mothers Inc. and Utah Mothers Association: Honoring a ‘role not often recognized’

The Utah Mothers Association of the national American Mothers organization celebrates Mother’s Day the same way some depict the elves of Santa’s Workshop preparing for Christmas – the work to celebrate the following year’s Mother’s Day begins on the Mother’s Day holiday itself. 

“We have been active in naming mothers of the year across the country since 1935,” said Utahn Deanne Taylor. She said the organization was founded to recognize the crucial contribution mothers made in pulling American families out of The Great Depression. 

Motherhood is a role worthy of continual exploration, but “is a role not often recognized,” emphasized Taylor.

Salt Lake Valley families wanting to gift a unique honor might consider nominating their moms for Utah Mother of the Year. The fairly breezy nomination process is available online: (Utah moms do get noticed. School teacher Judy Cook from Vineyard, Utah, was the 2013 American Mother of the Year.)

Acting local with mothers around the world

This Mother’s Day, volunteers and staff of the Utah Refugee Connection (URC) will host a luncheon at South Salt Lake’s Lincoln Elementary in Granite School District for approximately 300 refugee mothers from all over the world.

The annual event, now in its sixth year, will gift refugee mothers with the opportunity to learn quilting and receive professional Mother’s Day portraits “for women who had to leave their pictures behind” in coming to the United States, explained URC Executive Director and Sandy resident Amy Dott Harmer. 

Utah Refugee Connection celebrates Salt Lake Valley refugee mothers each year on Mother’s Day. (Photo Credit Amy Dott Harmer/Utah Refugee Coalition)


URC dedicates the month of May to supporting refugee mothers, distributing paper towels, laundry detergent, and toiletries to refugee mothers and adding to the stockpile of supplies at their “Sharehouse” supply store at Lincoln Elementary.

“Some of the cultures they come from have a Mother’s Day and some don’t,” Harmer said. “We want them to feel honored and appreciated.”

Pastor-ized Mother’s Day appreciation and the cookie-making parents of seven who deliver

An “XO” that tastes good? It sounded like the perfect gift to Pastor Vince Craig.

The lead pastor at C3 Church in Sandy, Craig feels Mother’s Day needs to be special for all women and wanted to provide a special gift, to “give moms something they can go home with.”

For the past three years, the church has partnered with downtown Salt Lake City gourmet cookie company Ruby Snap to order a few hundred individually-boxed cookies to make Mother’s Day a day “to spoil our moms,” he said.

The Millcreek couple at the helm of Ruby Snap dedicates their Mother’s Day to other mothers in the state and across the country. Parents of seven themselves, Ruby Snap founder Tami Mowen Steggell and husband Robert Steggell spend Mother’s Day baking and managing delivery logistics for custom cookies which literally spell love (with a delicious icing “XO” written on them). The ushers at C3 Church pass them out after the conclusion of the Mother’s Day service.

Of the Ruby Snap confections, “We give them to all of the women!” Craig exclaimed. “Even if you are not a mom, you have a mom, and may yet be a mom.”