Volunteer of the Week: Southard says memories of smiles are the best takeaway from volunteering

Published 8:00 am Sunday, October 29, 2023

This week’s Volunteer of the Week is Erin Southard. Southard is the Executive Director for the Vicksburg Convention Center, managed by VenuWorks.

She is a southern belle who bleeds black and gold for her beloved Alma Mater, the University of Southern Mississippi. She volunteers with several organizations: Vicksburg Kiwanis; serves on the Board of Directors for Good Shepherd Community Center; Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Walk for a Cure and Gibson Memorial United Methodist Church, where she chairs the Finance Committee and is Program Director for Vacation Bible School.

Erin resides in Vicksburg with her husband Ritch, daughter Emily, 12, sons Richie, 10, Paul, 4, and their four-legged giant baby, Einstein.

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How did you begin volunteering for Gibson Memorial UMC Vacation Bible School?
My kids had been participating since 2018 and someone mentioned needing some help, so I signed up.

How long have you been volunteering with Vacation Bible School at Gibson Memorial?
This was my second year to formally volunteer.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering for Vacation Bible School at Gibson Memorial?
There are so many to list, but the number one thing I remember most is the smiles. The smiles from kids and adults are what I remember most each year.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
Just do it! In our church, we probably have one adult volunteer for each child attending because the Gibson family loves everyone. We love having the kids to share the love of Christ with. It’s the interaction with people that is the reason I volunteer for things at church or anywhere. I like to talk, I love to laugh and if that’s on the menu, I’m there.

What are some of your tasks while volunteering?
I do a little dancing, singing and lots of laughing. We have an amazing team that’s a well-oiled machine, so during VBS, I get to do all the fun stuff: count cans, count heads and take lots of pictures.

What have you learned from volunteering?
Any time I have volunteered whether in church activities or not, I have learned that Jesus is everywhere. He’s on every face that walks through our door during VBS. It doesn’t matter where someone comes from or what they do- when you volunteer at church or any organization- everyone is equal- all are there for one purpose, to serve and help.

How can someone else who might be interested in volunteering with Vacation Bible School for next summer get involved?
Call the Gibson Memorial church office at 601-636-2605.

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to: volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.