LSC-O’s Spears Honored with Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award

In the late 1970s, Jackie Spears was asked to volunteer to teach a third-grade religion class, marking the beginning of 22 years (and counting) of community service. Today, she is being honored with the Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award, as the recipient from the Lamar State College-Orange campus. As the director of the Business and Technology program at LSC-O, Spears regularly volunteers both on campus and off, currently participating in more than 12 community service activities.

Dr. Michael Shahan, president of LSC-O, contacted Spears in June to inform her that she was the campus’ Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award recipient. Elated and honored to be the recipient, Spears said receiving the award never crossed her mind, but she believes it brings awareness to others that what they do can make a difference.

“I do what I do because I love helping others,” said Spears. “My goal is to add a new service every year.”

Thirty-two years ago, Spears began teaching religion classes for St. Mary Church on a volunteer basis and later became involved with their youth group. She also served as a Eucharistic minister and volunteered for various church and community activities through St. Mary’s. Over the years, she has volunteered and participated in a variety of fund-raisers, and was recently introduced to the Southeast Texas Food Bank by her daughter, who volunteers while away at college.

“I encourage everyone to volunteer at least one Saturday a month to participate in this worthy cause,” she said. “We put together boxes, stuff them with a variety of non-perishable food items and they are stacked to be sent out to needy families.”

Each month, Spears passes along information for volunteer opportunities at the Southeast Texas Food Bank to the faculty and staff at LSC-O, the youth groups she works with, and the various other organizations to encourage participation. Along with the Food Bank, she has participated in fund-raisers for the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, The American Diabetes walk and Orange Christian Services. She has volunteered to help with the local high school’s Project Graduation, as a chaperone, to work concession stands and car shows, to sell raffle tickets and work fund-raisers. This year, she has volunteered for the first time as a Little Dribbler’s basketball coach for local third and fourth graders.

Spears said volunteering is important because it lets you give back to the community, a lesson she has passed on to her daughter and the rest of her family.

“My family participates and our daughter is off at college volunteering and participating in various fund-raisers and activities,” she said. “It is part of what we do as a family; it’s a wonderful feeling to know that what you do helps others.”

In addition to those efforts already mentioned, within the community, Spears has worked with the Vacation Bible School at St. Mary’s Church and participated in fund raisers and food drives. She was score keeper for the high school softball and travel team athletics, has taught adult religion classes and is a volunteer for the Orange Lions Club. She donates to St. Jude’s Children’s’ Hospital and has participated in the greeting card donations to the St. Jude’s Children’s Ranch. As a member of Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society, Orange Christian Services and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Spears goes where she is needed and does whatever she can to help out.

“It is a part of my life,” she said. “Also, working on the LSC-O campus has shown me that our campus has some great people that are always here to help make life easier for those less fortunate. I am blessed by the people I work and come in contact with. It takes all of us working together to make a difference.”

Within the LSC-O community, Spears has taught resume writing and job-hunting skills to local students preparing to enter the workforce and job develops for students in need of full or part-time jobs. She visits employers, attends chamber functions, and visits local high schools promoting LSC-O in the community.  She has submitted art and photography to the Cypress Branches Literary Journal and has volunteered for a number of fund-raisers and activities on the campus. Working in a helping profession on a daily basis allows Spears to expand on opportunities to help others.

“The most important thing is that you are helping others in need,” she said. “When you do something that will help others, it is a great feeling that the little things we do really make a difference in someone’s life.”