In the Service of Others
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi
In 1974, Mrs. Ann Howell felt the need to answer the call of service to others in the Thibodaux community. She and 18 other women founded the Thibodaux Service League with the purpose to be educational and charitable. Forty-three years later, the Thibodaux Service League is thriving with a membership of over 80 women.
“I believe we are all on this earth to do unto others,” shares Jamie Gros, president of Thibodaux Service League. “To be a part of an organization that allows me to do that on a daily basis and the opportunity to see the people that need our help, its very rewarding.”
Thibodaux Service League works with around 11 community organizations such as Crossroads, Bayou Country Children’s Museum, the Lafourche Juvenile Justice Center to complete service projects. Each member is required to complete 300 hours or six years, which ever occurs first.
“We are able to have 80+ women of all different talents and abilities come together to serve,” says Jamie. “Everyone finds their niche, that need that calls out to them. You find yourself growing within service league, to find the things that interest you and offer your time there.”
An example of one of their more unique projects is Cinderella’s Closet. To help young ladies say yes to their prom dress, members gather formal dresses from the community to create a mini boutique at Thibodaux High School. Not only do the young ladies who attend receive a prom dress, they enjoy a full boutique experience. Their personal shopper guides them through the racks of dresses, shoes and accessories to help them select the outfit of their dreams. Last year, the organization was able to fulfill the dreams of nearly 80 young ladies.
A large organization such as this one cannot thrive without the help of funds. Thibodaux Service League holds several fundraisers throughout the year. Their newest one, A Royal Fairytale, is a daddy-daughter dance. Organized by the 2016 provisional class, the event rose from idea to royal success through the help of the Thibodaux community.
“It speaks to the reputation the Thibodaux Service League has in the community,” states Keli Dantin, parliamentarian. “Once businesses heard what we were planning, people were calling to donate items and money to help our project.”
Another successful fundraiser is the Louisiana Legacy cookbook, first printed in 1982. The ladies have decided to create a sequel, and kick things up a notch. Louisiana Legacy Today will be a collection of recipes from current and sustaining members, local restaurants and chefs. Divided into Louisiana seasons like Mardi Gras, Crawfish, and Football, this beautiful hardbound book will feature stunning photos of plated foods, taken by photographers who have volunteered their time and skills. The cookbook is on schedule to be completed by Christmas 2018.
Arguably Thibodaux Service League’s most popular fundraiser is A Visit to Santa’s Land and Reindeer Rowe. The two separate events, held in conjunction with one another the first weekend in December, serve as a community kick-off to the holiday season.
Reindeer Rowe was an idea one of the members had based off of other service organizations’ events like Hollydays in Baton Rouge and Tinsels and Treasures in Lafayette. It is a Christmas market featuring unique holiday shopping from local merchants all in one place. Nearly 40 vendors will gather to showcase their most popular holiday gift items.
A Visit to Santa’s Land is a family event where children can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, complete a few arts and crafts and enjoy delicious holiday snacks. This year, there will also be snow, face painting and a toddler area.
Last year, Thibodaux Service League decided to open on the Friday night before the event for a mini VIP event for special needs children and their families.
Some children, whether they have sensory issues or are in a wheelchair that would be difficult to maneuver through the event, are never able to attend a large-scale event like Santa’s Land. The ladies recognized the need for such an event, and decided to help out.
“The parents are so thankful for the opportunity to experience an event like this,” explains Chrissy Guidry, treasurer. “They often can’t go because it’s just too hard to be in the large crowd and wait in lines. It’s special for the siblings and parents as well, to be able to enjoy the event as a family.”
This year, Thibodaux Service League is proud to share they will be able to host the give-back event again, and with the help of sponsors, the event will be free for special needs children and their immediate families.
“We are grateful to our sponsors, The Center for Pediatric Therapy, Upside Downs, The Touchstone Center, Sensory Solutions, and Speech and Feeding Therapy – Holly Grabert, for their support of this special event in our community,” said Chrissy.
For this outstanding group of women, events like these drive home the reasons of the heart that they joined. It’s more than just service, it’s a camaraderie. It’s women of different backgrounds, hometowns, and careers, all joining together to give of themselves to a greater cause.
“What’s different about Thibodaux Service League are the hidden gems you serve in the community,” says Keli. “There are so many lives that we touch. It’s amazing when we can step in and help those that are going through a rough time.”