MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Libbett volunteers to help others, not for ‘applause’

Published 6:30 pm Monday, July 30, 2018

Jackie Libbett is a quiet volunteer.

She’s active with the United Way of West Central Mississippi as a member of its investment panel, and in her church, Gospel Temple MB Church, but when it comes to publicity, she’d rather see it go to someone else.

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“I like helping people,” she said. “I was raised by my parents, particularly my mother, to help somebody. Helping people, helping the community. I don’t do things for applause; I do it for a cause. “I’m the background person, I can help organize it, I can help get it together, I can show up to do the work, but you don’t have to worry about taking my picture or writing my name. My thing is just helping somebody, because I know somewhere down the line, I know someone probably has helped me along the way.”

A Vicksburg native, Libbett graduated from Vicksburg High School and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in public administration in criminal justice.

She has worked in the gaming industry since 1993, when she went to work for Harrah’s Casino and Hotel security as its investigator and risk administrator, later getting promoted to security manager.

When Harrah’s closed, she went to Rainbow Casino, now Lady Luck, as its security manager.

“We’re basically here to protect the assets of the company,” she said of working security at the casino. And while some may think the company’s assets are limited to money, “It’s the people, which includes the team members and the guests. The money is secondary, because they can get more money. But people are much harder to replace.

“We’re also in customer relations. We’re the first person you see when you come in, and we’re going to be the last person you see when you’re leaving. We extend a warm greeting to everyone, and we give them a good parting comment then they leave.”

It was her work at Harrah’s that got her involved with United Way.

“At the time, employees were asked to donate their fair share, which was one hour of their pay,” she said.

“We made it a competition, and as head of security, I wanted us to get that 100 percent. The first year we did it, security only had 99 percent, so I had to work on that one (percent) to get it up to 100 percent.”

When she went to Lady Luck, Libbett said, she was asked to be the casino’s campaign coordinator. “I’ve been with United Way ever since. You know, it’s gotten to the point that I don’t mind doing it. Sometimes, they ask a lot of me, and I just tell them, ‘Email mail me and tell me what time show up, I’ll be there.’ So whatever board they put me on is all right with me. I don’t mind helping people.”

She said Gospel Temple MB Church is also involved with community efforts, adding when the building at the Ridge Apartments burned, “We opened up our church and we accepted donations for the residents, and gave them some things they needed. “

In 2005, she said, the church helped victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“I have a sister who lives in Buffalo, New York, and she wanted to do something for people in this area to help with Hurricane Katrina,” Libbett said. “She and her church had a drive and loaded up a 53-foot 18-wheeler and sent it to Vicksburg.

“Our church was the recipient, and we opened and put it up so people affected by the storm could come and get what they needed.”

She said the church provides good support for community activities, and “I’ve got good support at Lady Luck, because they support anything I’m involved in, particularly when it comes to doing or the community.”

Libbett said she enjoys working with United Way and the church “because we’re doing something in the community.”

In 2016, she said, the Gospel Temple, with the help of Lady Luck and United Way, held an appreciation dinner for first responders, dispatchers, ministers and community leaders.

Before Harrah’s, she said, she worked at the Vicksburg Police Department.

“The police department is near to my heart. I hold first responders close, because I know what they go through; I see some of the challenges they have.

“I like to show recognition to other people. Sometimes, it’s the small things that they do, but those are the things that mount up. And that’s what makes an impact on the community or someone’s life.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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