Finding the work that needs done
Mar. 18—CRIDERSVILLE — Luann Everett always loved sending cards to her nieces and nephews. But when she didn't hear back, Everett turned her attention to a new audience: veterans, nursing home residents and shut-ins.
The cards became a tradition for Everett, who sent an estimated 1,800 Christmas cards and hundreds of other notes to strangers last year—a small reminder that someone, somewhere is thinking of them.
"Sometimes I'll send them to people if I see on Facebook and they say, 'My grandmother's turning 90, send her a card,' and I'll send her a card, then I'll send her another one in a month," said Everett, who worked as a nursing home activities director and owned her own bridal shop before retirement.
Now, Everett occupies her time with simple acts of kindness, earning her a Jefferson Award for Public Service.
There was the time Everett learned trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood were going hungry on Halloween, prompting her to start serving an assembly line of hot dogs, school supplies and candy from her garage.
Or the time Everett donated dozens of plus-sized gowns she altered for the Kiwanis Club's prom dress giveaway, so the girls could look like princesses.
Or the time Everett started sewing costumes for the performers of Dogwood Pass, an Old Western town she and her husband recently visited, so the actors won't have to buy their costumes from thrift stores.
"Luann is always giving of herself, always," said Laura Clementz, Everett's sister. "...She wants to feed people. She wants to serve people."
As Everett likes to say, "If there's something out there that needs to be done, I tend to find it."
That often means delivering home-cooked meals to elderly church friends and non-profit groups, which at times struggle to find volunteers for meal prep, or volunteering with the Cridersville Historical Society's youth historical club.
For years, Everett sewed elaborate costumes for school plays, reasoning that "if they're going to work that hard, then they need to have costumes like you would see if you went to Broadway."
Her love for sewing took on a new purpose when the pandemic hit, and masks were suddenly in short supply.
"You couldn't find elastic," Everett said, "and I had a bag of elastic, tons of elastic in the trunk of my car."
So, Everett quickly got to sewing her own masks — 5,000 or so homemade cloth masks, which she delivered to nursing home workers, teachers and others across the U.S., some as far away as Florida or Vermont.
"God said, 'You need to take that elastic,' and I think that's why I never took it back. I think God had a plan."
Everett's latest mission: Find young veterans who can perform the 21 gun salute at military funerals.
"I don't know how to go about it," she said, "but I'll figure it out."
The Jefferson Awards honor 10 individuals for their community service. There will be an awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at the City Club in downtown Lima. At the ceremony, one of the winners will be selected to represent the region at the national Jefferson Awards dinner in Washington, D.C. Read about other winners at LimaOhio.com/tag/jefferson.