Jody Sharp of Hayden has been volunteering for many years throughout Blount County. Her journey as a volunteer began when she was 11. She would tag along with her grandmother, Della Harrell, who was a nurse. One day, they stopped by a patient’s house for a visit. While there, Sharp spotted a piano and began to play and sing for them.
These trips with her grandmother were special and ignited a passion to help others. Her dad was a farmer, who helped others in the community and her mom volunteered also. Her grandmother told her “you can’t hand a person a rose without getting the fragrance on your own hand.” “In other words,” Sharp said, “whatever you are doing to help someone, you are getting part of the blessing from it.” That has always meant a lot to her. Even as a single parent with four children and now three grandchildren, she finds time to volunteer in her community.
She started attending RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) with her mother about 20 years ago. Even though a few of those hours were not recorded because she was younger than the sign-up age, she enjoyed spending this time volunteering with her mother and learning about RSVP. It invites people 55 and older to serve their community through various opportunities. The RSVP program “connects older adults with meaningful volunteer opportunities within their community. Whether you would like to learn a new skill, teach a skill, or share a talent, RSVP has an opportunity for you.”
One of the opportunities is making prayer shawls for the nursing homes and cancer patients. They have donated 350 crocheted prayer shawls over the span of two and a half years in Blount County. A group of ladies from Hayden First Baptist Church helps RSVP with this ministry. Sharp helps get the items donated to the recipients and admits she cannot crochet, but she does quilt and sew.
Beyond RSVP, she is the Chaplain for the Blount County Quilters Guild. This group makes bags for children in foster care, blankets for the Sheriff’s department, and quilts for the Veterans in November (the Quilts of Valor). She also started God’s Love Ministry 15 years ago. This ministry helps place items in the hands of those who need them. She has a list of what people may need and matches them with others who have items to donate.
She recently was awarded one of the Top 50 Over 50 Awards during a special banquet held by Positive Maturity. She was unaware that someone from RSVP nominated her until she received a call informing her that she had won. Sharp, representing Blount County, accepted the award at The Club in Birmingham.
This award recognizes people over the age of 50 who, and as their website states, “exemplifies what it means to grow up while staying young. Anyone can grow older; it takes neither talent nor effort. The goal in life is to grow up. This can best be accomplished by finding opportunities to make a difference, becoming a catalyst in this world, and leaving it with no regrets. Top 50 Over 50 celebrates members of our community who know how to dream, laugh, contribute, and achieve on many levels… all the key elements of staying young while growing up.”
Some have told her that “they can’t do that” [volunteer]. She smiles and quotes scripture about Isaiah. “When God says who will go for me? Isaiah said, ‘here I am, send me.’ And if we all take that attitude, we can all do something for everybody.”