Have you ever known someone who just made the world a better place?
Maybe their positive energy seems limitless. Or maybe they lead through an “always-be-serving” nature. Maybe they’re community-minded, or have a never-quit attitude, or seem to have an innate drive to elevate the lives of everyone around them.
Well, today we want to introduce you to a Houstonian who fits all of the above: Sandra Comeaux.
She’s a retired tax professional, a follower of Jesus, a preacher’s wife, a community activist, the recipient of the the BakerRipley Barbara Day Volunteer of the Year award, and of the Presidential Volunteer Service Silver Award. Plus, we hear she’s quite the cajun cook, too!
Sandra’s approach to serving neighbors is pretty simple, really.
“As for me, I love the Lord, and then I love people. But in order to love people — because everyone’s not the same — you have to know how to deal with certain people. In other words, if you come in with a bad attitude, I feel that I can say something to help your attitude better. Or make you feel better.”
SANDRA FINDS BAKERRIPLEY
Sandra retired from a professional tax and accounting career at Gibraltar Savings in the 1970s. It wasn’t long before a friend began recruiting Sandra as a BakerRipley volunteer to use her experience and expertise to help Houston neighbors with their taxes. These were men, women, and families who didn’t know how to navigate the complicated tax process, and lacked the wealth to hire the professional help they so desperately needed.
Sandra dove right in and began making a difference.
Since she teamed up with BakerRipley’s tax assistance teams 15 years ago, she’s logged over 2,554 volunteer hours. (For those of you doing the math, that’s more than 106 days … or 3.5 months!)
“I really had never thought about the hours,” Sandra says with a laugh, “My focus is always on helping other people. If you don’t do something to the best of your abilities, why do it?”
SANDRA IMPROVES LIVES
In her 15 years as a BakerRipley volunteer, Sandra has touched countless Houston lives.
She has a seemingly endless stream of stories about lives changed. She tells about low-income families who received thousands of dollars in refunds. For these families, those sums can dramatically improve their financial footing.
She tells of one woman who came in needing help. After Sandra completed her paperwork and reported the amount she would be receiving as a tax refund, the woman began crying. Sandra says her fellow volunteers looked at her incredulously. “What did you do to that woman?” they demanded. It turned out the woman was in danger of losing her home; the tax refund allowed her to keep it.
She tells of young men who need strong guidance. She tells of young families who need critical financial help. On and on the stories come.
It’s probably obvious by now, but Sandra believes strongly in taking responsibility for the success of those around her. “Every place I put my foot is my area,” she says about her volunteer spots. The reason she cares so much about these spaces, however, is the people.
Sandra sees herself as a servant and a teacher, but to the neighbors she serves, she’s become so much more than that.
That’s because Sandra’s true motivation is community-building. When she finishes off a tax season full of tireless teaching and service, she organizes a big community dinner. And everyone’s invited, from the BakerRipley tax team employees to volunteers to the men, women, and families who received help.
Many of those who attend call her Momma Comeaux, and they look forward to her home-cooked cajun meals!
THANK YOU, MOMMA COMEAUX!
When asked what she thinks about being considered a community pillar and leader, Sandra remains as practical and humble as ever.
“You know, I don’t really call them accolades. I say that I’m just a servant of the Lord. I put it that way.”
You don’t have to share Sandra’s beliefs to appreciate her passion and impact. Today, we can think of no better way to share her spirit with you than through her own words.
“I gotta build … until the Lord calls me home. So I try to take my mind, put it where it needs to be …. don’t think about the negatives. I try to always think about the positive.”
Sandra has certainly lived that out for her 15 years volunteering with BakerRipley. And today we’re positive that our neighbors’ lives are better because of her time, talents, and unending positivity!
So wherever you are, whatever you do, we hope you take Sandra with you (at least in spirit). Make a neighbor’s life better today by becoming a BakerRipley volunteer. That’s how we keep Houston an amazing place to call home!