Helen Mulrennan Young in 2022 upon receiving the Spirit of Kiwanis Award at Beef ’O’ Brady’s in Apollo Beach. (Photo courtesy Helen Mulrennan Young.)

Known for her “gracious heart and positive spirit,” Helen Mulrennan Young is set to celebrate her 100th birthday on Monday, February 27.

Young is the youngest and last surviving sibling of a family whose pioneering heritage in Eastern Hillsborough County is duly noted with the naming of Mulrennan Middle School in Valrico, which opened in 2003 at 4215 Durant Rd.

The school sits on land that was once the homestead of Joseph and May Mulrennan and their children, Annie Mae, John, Joe, Margaret, Bud, Frank, Tim and Helen.

Young, in 2006, became the last surviving sibling with the passing of Martin ‘Bud’ Mulrennan at age 93, a farming pioneer with a citrus grower’s hat who managed the family’s 160-acre Mulrennan Groves, now home to houses and the school. Her brother Joseph ‘Jody’ Mulrennan served as president of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, which he helped to establish in 1959.

Also active in community life, Young is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, which her brother Bud joined as a charter member in 1960. She is a long-standing Cornerstone Baptist Church congregant, where she is known for her crochet ministry.

For more than 23 years, Young has crocheted blankets and hats for newborn babies and afghan blankets for newly married couples. She also crochets for many others, including cancer warriors, Tampa General Hospital patients and the Lioness Project, whose mission is to help women and children homeless because of domestic violence.

“My crochet ministry means everything to me because when I crochet, I concentrate on what I’m doing and not on the things that I can’t do,” Young said, who suffers from advancing arthritis. “I get satisfaction knowing that what I’m making is going to bring joy into someone else’s life.”

For her wisdom and largesse, Young in 2022 received the Spirit of Kiwanis Award from District Governor Karla Nielsen during an Apollo Beach visit. Young, reads the plaque, “with her gracious heart and positive spirit inspires us all to become better servant leaders and to live our highest and best lives.”

By rights, Young never should have made it past her early years. “When I was 9, my appendix ruptured, and back in those days that was like getting a death warrant,” Young said. “In fact, the doctor told my parents to start planning my funeral.”

What has kept her alive, Young said, is her enduring faith. Also, that she eats a lot of vegetables, keeps medications at a minimum, has a holistic doctor, stays fit and active and keeps her mind engaged.

Her faith has gotten her through her darkest days, Young said, most notably after her cancer diagnosis while taking care of a blind husband battling Parkinson’s disease.

“There are a lot of struggles and joys in life,” Young said. “It takes those struggles to appreciate the good times that you have because if you had it good every day and you didn’t have to be concerned about anything, you would just go along in life and take it all for granted.”

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