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Milton Hershey School Houseparent Honored as a Woman of Excellence

For some people, a job can feel like work. But, for Karen Washington, a Milton Hershey School houseparent, her job is a lifestyle worth the effort. On March 29, 2023, Karen was celebrated as a YWCA of Greater Harrisburg’s Tribute to Women of Excellence honoree for her dedication to educating and nurturing the children she cares for in her role at MHS.

Karen Washington, Milton Hershey School houseparent and 2023 Tribute to Women of Excellence honoree stands with her award.

The annual event showcases women in the community who have gone above and beyond professionally and philanthropically. Over the last 34 years, the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg has honored more than 750 women through this prestigious award. From local nonprofit leaders to women who are taking industries and businesses to the next level in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and surrounding communities, the women who were named honorees stand out—Karen included.

For more than 22 years, Karen and her husband, Leno, have thrived in their role as houseparents to elementary school boys. When they made the choice to relocate their family from Harrisburg to Hershey, Pennsylvania, they had no idea the way their lives would be shaped and changed forever.

“It is such an honor to walk alongside my students every day—they are worth it,” Karen shared.

Over the decades, the Washingtons have made it their mission to make their student home feel like a family. From integrating their own children into the student home to the relationships they grow with their students’ families, they have built a solid foundation for the hundreds of students who have passed through their student home.

Karen Washington, Milton Hershey School houseparent, stands with her family at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg's Tribute to Women of Excellence awards ceremony.

The event on March 29, 2023, celebrating honorees was held at the Hershey Lodge and served as a fundraiser for the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg to continue offering services to women in need from across the Central Pennsylvania region. Several of Karen’s closest mentors, colleagues, friends, and family members attended the event in her honor.

It’s without a doubt that women like Karen are what make MHS such a special place to live, grow, and work.

Congratulations, Karen! Thank you for the impact you make each day on our students and community.

Learn More about the Tribute to Women of Excellence Become an MHS Houseparent

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.