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Photo Cutline: (Photo taken by Carol Dawson): Amanda Wagoner Meade, First Christian Church Associate Minister, places the Extra Miler pin on George Ellis' shirt, in recognition of his status as an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.
EXTRA MILER: Coloring Our World
Creative people tend to bring full color to an otherwise monochrome world. Our July Extra Miler, George Ellis, turns life’s dull and numbing neutrals into vibrant and joyful colors.
George inspires others around him to dig a little deeper to discover the often suppressed bright segments of their mind and life. He knows personally how darkness can grind into the mind. In the past several months, both his son and his wife have passed away.
Through the grief, George found a light much brighter than his sorrow that would guide him … his faith. He explains his motivation to power up each day, “Despite extremely significant losses in my life, I have learned to concentrate on the blessings instead of focusing on the negative.”
FCC Interim Minister Gary Straub described George’s can-do attitude, “If you do NOT want something done, don’t call George; however, if you want a project dragged across the finish line, he’s your guy!” Gary adds, “He has a beautiful heart for God.”
George works in the communication and graphic design field and unquestionably loves the work. His creativity is boundless and all the credit is given to his faith.
Several years ago, George and First Christian Church in Jeffersonville, entertained a mutually beneficial merger. It was agreed that George would move his small graphic arts consulting business into one of the church administrative offices. From the Jeffersonville office, George shares his creativity, inspiring attitude, and limitless talent with the congregation and community.
George specifically feels a strong bond with youth. He is currently the volunteer president for the Jeffersonville Evening Optimist Club and is involved in creating programs to help youth in our community learn respect and to realize there are people who truly care about their well-being.
Amanda Wagoner Meade, associate minister for First Christian Church, is impressed with how George lives his life inspiring others. She described one of her favorite stories of George’s good deeds.
The story begins earlier this year, soon after his wife Barbara passed away. Barbara was extremely devoted to sewing, quilting and craft projects. She had amassed thousands of items relating to her passion and these items were warehoused in a large storage unit. George chose to donate the material and crafting supplies to First Christian to be sold to the community. He asked that all the proceeds go to the youth program. Through that sale we not only raised a large sum to support the future of our church, the youth, but that material went on to make prayer blankets for cancer patients, skirts and dresses for girls in Africa, prayer shawls for nursing homes, caps for newborns and dozens of other ministries all over our community. Out of the darkness of his grief, George reflected the light and power of Christ through this act of generosity and compassion.
Sue Padgett, FCC congregation board chair, describes George as, “He always has an ulterior or interior motive, to be connected to Christ and lives out of a compassionate place.”
George connects with those who are struggling with loss and is quick to recommend that those individuals look to their faith community for love and guidance on how to pull up and out of despair. George explained, “I had to learn to depend on God and trust He will get me through the bad times.” He added, “I also learned to consider others who are suffering above myself and to not let the small pestering concerns occupy my mind.”
George is a living example of how to overpower extreme sorrow with grace, dignity and respect for life. Gary Straub provided a Helen Keller quote that fits George, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
George views his creativity as a gift from God. He plans to continue using his talents, along with the ability to persevere, to lift our community to a higher level of worth and dignity — starting first with our youngest citizens.
Thank you, George Ellis, for being our Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: George understands many people are experiencing overwhelming and crushing grief in their lives; however, do not despair. These feelings can be obliterated by turning to and trusting your friends, family and faith. He shares a favorite faith story written many years ago by Mary Stevenson:
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?” The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”
George claims there were many footprints surrounding him in the sand when he was feeling low. He credits those footprints with the energy needed to move beyond the heartache and pain and encourages you to search for those people in your life. For those providing the footprints, focus on listening and offering encouragement, and yes … when the need is the greatest, pick them up and carry them across the sand.
Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and owner of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc. If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an EXTRA MILER, please contact her. To submit an Extra Miler, a story, or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Cdawson@eeoguidance.com, mail: THE EXTRA MILERS, The News-Tribune, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.
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