Of Character: Volunteer grew up watching others give of their resources to those in need
SPENCER — Our resources are your resources.
Layola Long, 63, witnessed that belief in action while growing up in Wellston. Long saw it carried out by her parents and by the community.
For more than 35 years now, Long and husband Troy have lived in Spencer. And even longer than that, she has been diligent in serving others through her church, St. John Christian Methodist Church, (CME), in Spencer.
Those who have benefited from or have been blessed by Long’s caring efforts in recent decades can thank not only her, but also her parents, Othel and Mina Mae Harris-Gardner, as well as neighbors during her childhood years in Wellston.
“My father worked and provided the financial needs of the home and family,” she said. “My mother took care of the home that included a total of eight children and made sure we all attended school and church regularly. They taught us the value of hard work.
“I grew up in a small rural community and can remember how the members of the community took care of each other with the resources they had, no matter how great or small. Their example was a great inspiration to me and part of the reason why I volunteer.”
There was also someone else who guided Long in a way that would help not only her but others throughout her life. Her sister-in-law, the late Margarene Long-Johnson, was Long’s mentor.
“Anything I wanted to know, no matter how big or small, she was always there to give me answers and instruct me in the correct way in which it should be done,” Long said.
“I admired her dedication to give freely of her time and talents and be objective in all situations.
“She is another great inspiration to me and part of the reason why I volunteer.”
Long has been a member of her church for more than 40 years.
There, she volunteers as the church’s financial secretary, is on the finance committee, is a stewardess, sings in the choir, and is coordinator for the church’s kitchen ministry.
Recently she was named coordinator of the St. John Mobile Meals Ministry, serving the homebound in the Spencer community one day each week.
“A lady came into the church from the street one day,” Long said.
“She stated she was hungry and asked for a meal. I was able to provide her a meal using whatever we had in the kitchen.
“The lady then took the meal and was grateful for what was provided to her. I was blessed that I was there and able to help someone in need. That is what the ministry is about.”
Layola and Troy Long, who have two daughters, Angela Long and Ameyka Long-Pittman, also volunteer with the Route 66 Committee, a nonprofit organization to assist the towns along historic Route 66.
Layola said the committee helps her community by raising funds to provide financial assistance for various projects.
The committee also honors and recognizes senior citizens, veterans, educators and those who still serve in the community.
Also, it promotes advanced education by awarding scholarships to students graduating from high school and students enrolled in a college or university who are still living in those communities.
In this way, Long’s resources of time and effort become the resources of others.
“Volunteering is a way of helping or serving other people without expectation of recognition or financial gain,” she said.