Always working behind the scenes and never seeking recognition are two qualities that ended up including one Bordentown resident in the 2020 Outstanding Women of Burlington County Awards.
Doan Tucker was highlighted for her years of community service in Bordentown primarily through her work with Christ Church Parish by the county’s Women’s Advisory Council. She was nominated for and honored this year in recognition for her many accomplishments in community service, including providing meals to homeless families through the Homefront Project, organizing Valentine’s treats for troops and free monthly laundry days for struggling families.
She has lived in Bordentown since 2010, when she married her husband, the Rev. Matthew Tucker of Christ Church Parish. Matthew had been part of the local parish since 2008 so Doan moved from Virginia to join a new community.
“When someone who works primarily behind the scenes and works so hard to make the project work, rather than gain notoriety for themselves, so much can be done and Doan is aware of that,” Matthew Tucker said. “So part of her success is really never seeking recognition for herself. And as it turns out, you do that for the better part of the decade and someone’s going to recognize your work.”
Tucker’s involvements over her years in Bordentown include helping create monthly hot meals for residents living in motels through the HomeFront program, collecting items for families displaced by fires, sewing and collecting baby products and diapers for the Burlington Chapter of Newborns in Need, collecting items for women’s shelters, cooking special meals for single-service members living in the dorms at the Joint Base and bringing greeting cards to local nursing home residents.
She also collects and sorts food at the community food pantry, brings water to participants at the annual 5K run for Bordentown schools and creates meals for community meal trains for those recovering from illness or family loss.
Due to the pandemic and social distancing concerns, many ongoing initiatives through the church and community were halted for health reasons.
The Bordentown Laundry Project, where Tucker collects and distributes laundry products and quarters for those in need, was postponed until it is deemed safe. The monthly free laundry night is generally held at Rivertown Laundromat, located at 351 Farnsworth Ave.
Tucker’s work in the community and church are values instilled in her by her parents. Her family while growing up tended to move around a lot. Eventually they settled in Fall Church, in northern Virginia.
Her father became a priest in an Episcopal church in their town after Tucker had graduated from high school. Tucker said she didn’t consider herself a “PK” or “preacher’s kid” because she was older around the time her family took on a bigger role in the religious community. When her father was put in charge of his own parish, Tucker became involved in the church, recognizing community needs and working with local youth.
Tucker met her future husband while he was attending seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, not far from her father’s parish in Falls Church. When they moved to Bordentown, she wanted to see how she could help this new community of people.
“I wanted to see how things were done here and see how I can be helpful,” Tucker said. “So that took some time to recognize what we do well together as a parish, and what else we can do in the future.”
When asked about her many charitable works and local initiatives, Tucker is quick to mention others who were part of a project, never taking full credit for her efforts. That’s typical of Tucker, said her friend—and nominator—Rebecca Collins.
“Doan does so much and doesn’t want any recognition,” Collins said. “And then when I started compiling the list of things that she does it was just crazy, like she does so much. I know she doesn’t want the recognition but I feel like that’s almost why she deserved it.”
In a video acceptance speech Tucker went through the major projects she has been involved in over the years.
Since the onset of the pandemic Tucker has adapted to the needs of the community. She has collected and distributed over 2,000 masks to frontline workers.
“She’s as busy as she’s ever been,” Matthew Tucker said.
Along with reaching out to the community to help sew and donate masks to frontline workers, Tucker also helps with organizing and delivering groceries to HomeFront families living out of local motels who don’t have any other way of getting food safely.
“Certain channels we’ve been able to still use, but the needs have changed and Doan responded to that very quickly,” Matthew said.
She works with local civic groups, including the Elks, Kiwanis and Rotary Club, as well as the local fire, EMS and police departments for many of her efforts.
Tucker utilizes her professional background as a graphic designer to help nonprofits with their outreach, websites and social media content. She studied art and design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Photography is another talent that Tucker puts to good use by volunteering to photograph community events.
“Doan is a private person—she likes to be behind the scenes,” Matthew Tucker said. “She’s a photographer, so she’s used to sort of being the one highlighting other people and so certainly there was a little bit of embarrassment about being singled out and recognized for her accomplishments so publicly. But certainly, she must have been proud, and I know I’m exceedingly proud.”
Tucker was unaware of her nomination until she received an award letter in February. Shocked by the gesture, she asked around to see who had shared her accomplishments.
“It was a major surprise,” Tucker said. “I really don’t think I need awards for doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But I’m glad there’s a recognition and through this maybe people would want to be part of it or be inspired to do more community work.”
Every year the Burlington County Women’s Advisory Council puts out a call for nominations. Any woman can be nominated and winners are selected by the council.
Winners received a plaque, freeholder proclamations and state legislature resolutions.
“The Women’s Advisory Council selected Doan because it was clear that she is extremely dedicated to a life of serving others and to community service,” Freeholder Felicia Hopson said. “Ms. Tucker exemplifies the mission of the Women’s Advisory Council and serves as a role model for women everywhere.”
An awards reception was held virtually on June 15 for the winners.
The Outstanding Women of Burlington County Awards have been a long-standing tradition since 1990. This year nine local women were recognized. Three students were selected to receive $1,000 scholarships. The six other honorees were recognized in areas of mentorship, volunteerism, education, community service, corporate leadership and diversity/inclusion.