My grandma, Joan Crooks, has been one of my greatest influences in life. She taught me the value of service over self, and giving back for the rights reasons - not because you have anything to gain from it, but because your community needs you. Even at 95 years young, she spends every election registering voters at her retirement community. She is witty, sharp, and doesn't miss a day of church if she can help it. Her experience setting up a food pantry in Jeffersonville, the Center for Lay Ministries, is the main reason that volunteering for the Network of Community Ministries is so significant to me. I asked her to say a few words about service for my campaign blog:
Why is it important to be civically involved in the city or immediate community where you live?
I think in the long run, to involve yourself is enriching for your community and for yourself. You meet new people, have an opportunity to share new ideas, and it’s good for your mental health to be active. I believe in the golden rule, and that we should do unto others as we would want for ourselves. I think our Creator expects us to help our follow man. Also, I believe that volunteering and involving yourself in your community gives you a sense of purpose beyond your significant other, and can make life more meaningful in times of adversity.
You’ve been involved in making a lot of positive changes happen where you live, whether in Jeffersonville or Edmond – what motivates you, and what makes you successful at pushing for change?
I’m motivated to enrich the community and help other people. You have to be on fire about your cause. You have to believe in it, whether it’s helping an agency, candidate, board of directors, or being a volunteer somewhere. You have to put your heart into it and have a true passion for it. I did what I could do when I had the energy do it. My suggestion to future servants would be to do what you can while you’re able to.
What makes a healthy, strong community?
A group of people who believe in the same thing and are working together for a greater cause. People who are selfless and care about the wellbeing of others and the community more than their own wellbeing.
Tell us about a time when you made a positive change in your community.
My husband and I started a Youth Shelter for delinquent children that had to be removed from their homes. They could be tutored and had a safe place to live. Also, I was chairman of the board of the Center for Lay Ministries. We united 7 inner city churches of different denominations to have a central food pantry instead of each church having their own pantry. Many people were fed through this effort. In addition, this resulted in personal connections that extended beyond just food, as individuals received financial guidance and emotional support.