57 Cents and the Power of Commitment

This true story is from a sermon delivered in December 1912 by Russell H. Conwell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He tells the story of his former church home and his encounter there with a little girl named Hattie May Wiatt.

Hattie May Wiatt lived near a church where the Sunday School was very crowded. As head of the church, Rev. Conwell told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to accomodate anyone and everyone who wanted to attend Sunday School at the church.

A short time later, Hattie May became sick - so sick that she died as a child. Rev. Conwell was asked to officiate the funeral, and also was told by the child's mother that Hattie May had been saving her money to help build a bigger church to house the people interested in Sunday School. The mother gave the minister Hattie May's little purse, in which he found 57 cents that the young girl had put away.

Hattie May died in 1886 when 57 cents was no small amount for a little girl from a poor family. Rev. Conwell converted the 57 cents into 57 pennies, then told his congregation the story of little Hattie May's saved gift. Like a seasoned fundraiser, he was able to "sell" the pennies to those in attendance for a return of approximately $250. Additionally, 54 of the original 57 pennies were returned to Rev. Conwell and he put them on display.

Some of the members of the church formed what they called the Wiatt Mite Society, dedicated to making Hattie May's 57 cents grow as much as possible and to purchase property for the Sunday School operations. A nearby house was purchased with the $250 that Hattie May's 57 cents had produced, and the rest is history. The first classes of Temple College - later Temple University - were held in that house. It later was sold to allow Temple College to move and grow. This, along with the Society's founding of the Good Samaritan Hospital (now the Temple University Hospital) are significant testimony to the power of a very small amount of money with a very large share of commitment.

Strong Leaders / Strong Stories

Strong leaders have strong stories, and a solid sense of "self" as a leader.  But too often, even strong women view themselves or are perceived as being very good at "getting things done," but not as valuable strategic resources. What can you do to change this?  Find Out More Here