• By John McDaniel, Midway Correspondent

Midwegians in the news

Agnes Scott College has named Helen Roach Rentch, class of 1968, an Outstanding Alumnae for 2018. Rentch’s mother, Ruth Slack Roach, class of 1940, won the award in 1983. She will be honored at a luncheon at the college April 20, 2018. Her bio for the award reads as follows:

A native of Kentucky, Helen Roach Rentch has lived a life of public service. Friends who know her say she has been the first to identify an injustice, first to step in and address it and first to gently encourage others to do the same. Rentch had two significant careers — as a community organizer and as a public health nurse — but her service to the community truly stands out.

Following her graduation from Agnes Scott, where she received her B.A. in sociology, Rentch went on to do graduate research in rural sociology at the University of Kentucky. She then began organizing for miners, rallying for benefits for those disabled by coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (also known as black lung disease). This began her long association with the Mountain People’s Rights Association.

In 1999, Rentch began a 16-year journey to develop, fund and see built The Homeplace at Midway, a living community for the elderly built on the Green House model. The Homeplace at Midway is a person-centered care community that serves as a model for deinstitutionalizing long-term care and enhancing the lives of seniors and is the only such community in Kentucky.

Rentch’s commitment to addressing injustices and inequities continues. She is a member of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission, a trustee of Frontier Nursing University, an ambassador for Midway University, and she serves on the board of the Woodford County Community Foundation. In 2010, she was interviewed for the oral history project “Voices from the Past/Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era.”

Rentch is one of 10 women in her family who have graduated from Agnes Scott, and she will be the second in her family to receive this award.

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