Valerie Hammond was born on May 11th, 1958 in Granville, NY, the 3rd of 4 Children, the oldest daughter to Evelyne and Bruce Hammond. She excelled at sports, holding the state record in the 100 yd dash in Highschool and at 11-years-old, skyed Tuckerman’s Ravine (the highest mountain in the Northeast). Her family moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for her Senior year, where she met and dated Bill Hill. They went to the senior prom together, after graduation, they parted as friends and went off to different Colleges. Valerie pursued her passion for Art, earning a bachelor’s in art from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and then a master’s degree in Education also from UNH. Years later, Bill and Valerie’s paths crossed, they fell in love and got married in August of 1983 on a very hot summer day. Valerie took a position as an Art Teacher at a private High School and also sold Real Estate. In 1986 they bought a house in Hopkinton, NH, and both became involved with the Church, (First Congregational Church of Hopkinton). Bill sang in the Choir and Valerie served on various boards.
In Aug of 1989, Bill and Valerie were blessed with their first child, Brittany. Bill, Valerie, and baby Brittany would spend many weekends in the summer on their Sailboat on Lake Champlain in Vermont. The Church became the center of their social circle as Valerie had a way of becoming fast friends with everyone she met. In 1993 Valerie was serving on the Mission Board at the Church, trying to find worthy charities the church could support beyond the local area. It was also the same year that they would be expecting their second child.
It was a difficult pregnancy for Valerie, and she spent several days in the hospital late in her pregnancy to prevent premature labor. Premature labor was successfully delayed, and on April 9th1993, Valerie went into labor with Samuel. In labor, she experienced an amniotic fluid embolism. Samuel was taken by emergency C-section, but Valerie never regained consciousness and passed away on April 13th. Valerie’s passing was a shock to her family and church community. Over 400 people from as far away as Washington, DC packed the little church in Hopkinton to pay their respects. The Church rallied behind the Hill’s and provided much-needed emotional, spiritual, and physical support to Bill and his new family following Valerie’s death.
At that time, the First Congregational Church of Hopkinton mission board supported Tim and Patti Fader (cousins of Nancy Van Loan, a long-time member of the church) who were missionaries at Kijabe Hospital Kenya. The Faders happened to make a visit to NH that year and after some discussion, Nancy and the Mission board decided that a Scholarship in Valerie’s honor should be established to provide funds to a nursing student at the Hospital where the Faders worked.
Each year at Christmas and Easter the Church has a special collection for the Valerie Hill Memorial Scholarship. To date, First Church of Hopkinton has donated over $35,000 to this cause that has supported untold numbers of students who in turn impact thousands of lives in Kenya. Valerie’s love and kindness live on through the many members of the First Congregational Church of Hopkinton who contribute to the scholarship in her memory and in hope that many more lives in Kenya will be touched through these gifts.
**Recipients of scholarship funds are recommended by Kijabe College of Health Sciences committee, not by Friends of Kijabe. Requests should be made directly to the school.