Inspire · Miss Mary

Inspire Me: Mary Kay Horney Changing Lives One Candy Turtle at a Time

Candy Turtles save lives. Enter Mary Kay Horney, a 25 year career nurse whose life’s work has been to care for hospital patients. She has another passion, one that so many of us just tuck away in the back of our minds as a moment in time. Mary Kay visits Haiti once a year with a group of other churches to provide assistance where ever needed. This mother of five (3 in college, 1 out and one still in high school) sells her homemade candy turtles to pay for her trip each year.

It is a mission of mercy and one of educating residents of Haiti on how to care for their infants. She helps them understand that old wives tales will harm their infants. She helps distribute food, provides assistance to the “School in the Mountains” (an adoptive collaborative effort on the part of Holy Apostles, Elizabeth Ann Seaton and Saint Margaret Mary Catholic churches) , and has worked at an orphanage in Port ‘o Prince with babies at death’s door.Look at how beautiful this baby is

To listen to Mary Kay’s stories of each week she was present your heart goes out to all the volunteers who go with her to help this small nation. After the earth quake she and a medical group from the Missionaries of Charity headed there to assist the sick. She saw so much that needed to be done that the experience set upon her heart and mind, similar to Mother Teresa’s calling, that only love will cure all.

There is a facility that she volunteers in called the House of the Dying with approximately 100 patients. These patients have TB or cancer. With her nursing background she is a welcome addition because she is able to perform certified medical functions. She’ll start an IV, evaluate a patient, and provide a soft touch when a dying patience needs a little comfort.

At days end through a tired exhaustion, she and all those there give thanks for having the opportunity to serve God’s people. The entire time there Mary Kay contemplates, “Why do people in this day and age have to live in these conditions? What else can I do?” She humbly believes, “I am the blessed one who “gets” to go on these trips.”

To get to Haiti you must pay for your own air fare, everything you take with you, supplies, and lodging. This costs quite a bit. Mary Kay decided to raise the funds by selling her homemade candy turtles. Two years ago a friend of mine sent out an email asking if I wanted to help support a church mission group to go to Haiti by purchasing the turtles for Christmas. I was having a lot of people over and said of course. I had NO idea it was Mary Kay, as we are parishioners at St. Margaret Mary. Over that summer I asked my friend, “Who sells these?”, and she told me. Wow, I had no idea.  We found each other on Facebook and I asked Mary Kay if I could write her inspirational story. She said yes.

This past Christmas, Mary Kay made 200 pounds of candy turtles and sold them all. She is preparing to head back to Haiti again. I asked her about the recipe. She has developed it over the years. All I can tell you about the recipe is that it is made in stages, caramel and Morke’s chocolate are involved. The candy comes in a beautiful little box tied up with gorgeous ribbon. There are 12 to 13 in a box. They’re sold only one time a year around Christmas. Orders are taken in November and they are ready by December 15th.

So for each box that you purchase you know from your heart you are helping wonderful volunteers head out to do something so profoundly compassionate it’s so worth the love handle. You can order by emailing her at

From Mary Kay’s email she signs off as part of her signature “Let your light shine before man, that they may see the good that you do and give glory to God.” Matthew 5:16   We have angels among us.

If you have an inspiring story let me know.

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