The Slidell Independent is publishing a special section today that I am most proud of. It is a publication that we do every other year called “Our Slidell Volunteers” and highlights most of the local non-profit or civic groups in this area.
Let me say right up front that if you are not in there it is not our fault. We have publicized the special section for a month through various outlets—Facebook, the newspaper, Chamber e-mail blasts. All a group had to do was fill out a simple Q&A and they would have a free spot in the section. So if you missed out then contact me and I’ll put you in the file for next time.
The publication highlights dozens of local volunteer groups and tells you how to support them, join them and understand what they are all about.
Reading the different spots in the publication reminds me how many incredible people we have living all around us, those I see day-in and day-out who seem to only want to find a place to do something for others.
Why do we do that? Truth is, the Bible tells us that we were born with a selfish heart and most interested in ourselves.
But for many of us—I dare say a majority of people in our community—they are willing to help someone else if shown where and how they can do it. And it doesn’t always have to be in a volunteer group.
Additionally, you have those extra special people who saw a need and actually started an organization for a cause, to help a group of people, or to thank those who deserve it.
One of my best friends in Slidell is a businessman named Chuck Sabadie whom many of you know. I have grown to have great admiration and respect for Chuck.
Chuck is not only a very successful businessman, but I noticed from our early friendship that he was doing many incredible things to help some of his own special interest groups—veterans, nurses and teachers being at the top of the list. (His wife is a nurse.)
For the years I have known Chuck I never knew what motivated him to do so much, but last week he told me his story about it all.
Chuck and his wife Kay had their first child, a son named Rhett, and were naturally the happy parents as Chuck was working hard to start his financial services career.
Rhett was 18-months-old and playing outside of their apartment complex when he apparently was poisoned by what they later found out was bug spray that a local exterminator had spilled. Kay rushed Rhett to the hospital when she saw he was getting very sick and their baby slipped into a coma. Chuck said he prayed by the hospital bed and begged God to save his son.
“I promised God I would spend my life in service to others if he would spare our son,” he recalled.
Thankfully the story had a happy ending as Rhett came out of the coma and recovered. Rhett is now a business partner with his dad at Premier Tax of Slidell and never had any long term effects of being poisoned by what they later determined was an entire canister of bug poison spilled in the grass.
Chuck went on to become the successful businessman that he is, but also as a Christian man, said he has sought great advice and wisdom about life as so many others do. He said he never forgot the comment from Mother Teresa—“We shall never know the good that a simple smile can do.”
Chuck said he also learned a lifelong lesson in a Dale Carnegie course about the immense good that comes from genuine praise and sincere appreciation of others. They are all things I see in the man all the time.
Those are the qualities you also see in volunteers—thinking about others more than themselves. Too often we are self-focused and caught up in our own worries and life problems. And I get it—they are real and hard to take your mind of.
But the more we turn that around and concentrate on others, and give of our time in situations where you can help someone else, it honestly makes you forget about your own problems.
As many of us know, the basis for that kind of spirit for others is straight out of the Bible—the greatest commandment as Jesus called it—to love your neighbor.
“Our Slidell Volunteers” in today’s paper is so full of people thinking of others, who offer a smile to someone else, who offer sincere appreciation and show genuine praise to others.
I hope our special publication will inspire you to do whatever it is that fits your situation. Not everyone is made to run out and join a group—it can be accomplished just as easily by putting your family and friends above yourself.
It truly does start with a smile, genuine praise and sincere appreciation. Whether it is called being a great volunteer or not, that’s what is so wonderful to see in our communities.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.