Regina South: An example of kindness in action
Editor’s Note: The Year of Faith began last October and will run through this November. Each month during the Year of Faith, the Catholic Spirit will feature lay men and women who live their faith in a variety of ways. To suggest a lay person to feature, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mary P. Walker
Regina South is a busy wife, mother and business owner, who characterizes herself as "typical." However, those who know her use adjectives such as "selfless," "humble" and "hardworking." They can cite an almost endless list of times where she has seen a need for Christian charity and either met that need herself or mobilized others to work along with her.
South’s focus on service is a natural extension of her upbringing, and she credits her late mother for giving her an example of kindness in action. Her Catholic faith serves as a pillar for her life.
"Catholic is who I am, and I try to make decisions daily based on the Catholic faith," she said.
These decisions reflect a passion for helping the poor. As a life-long member of St. Anthony Parish in Bryan, she participates in parish life, both as a leader and one who humbly follows the lead of others. In addition, she is quick to praise the good work of others, who in turn inspire her.
"If you want something done, you just call Regina," said Becky Scamardo, the parish business administrator at St. Anthony, who has known South for many years.
South did not wait to be asked when she started St. Anthony’s meal ministry in 2004. South explained that as she was praying, the word "assume" came to mind. We often assume things are being done, a need is being met, and everything is working as it should. However, after some research, we often find out otherwise, she said.
The ministry started when she discovered that the local Meals on Wheels program, which provides the elderly with nutritious cooked meals delivered to their homes, only operates Monday through Friday. On the weekends, the clients must fend for themselves. Many are unable to leave their homes, have low incomes and are limited in their ability to care for themselves.
Although South knew she could not address the entire problem, she believed that St. Anthony Parish could make a difference. Forging ahead with prudence and excellent organizational skills, South rallied her parish to action. One Saturday a month, volunteers meet in the parish kitchen to prepare, package and deliver a freshly cooked hot meal to nearly 100 elderly people in the Bryan-College Station area.
The parish supports the ministry financially and by volunteer efforts, and local businesses provide generous donations. South hopes that other parishes and faith communities in the area will adopt the other weekends during the month.
A tasty meal is not the only good thing delivered by the ministry. South explained that many of the clients have limited social contact. Members of the ministry phone ahead to confirm delivery. Some clients enjoy these friendly phone calls for much welcome conversation. When the meals are delivered, the caring human contact lifts the spirits of people who cannot leave their home.
"You wonder if one Saturday a month will make a difference, but then you talk to people and they are so appreciative," South said. The ministry also receives phone calls of appreciation and thank you notes. Many of the clients are ill, and some have died over the years. South is touched when they receive notes from family members to thank them for the care they had shown their loved one.
South’s concern for the poor extends to other endeavors. The parish has an extensive Thanksgiving food basket outreach. Carol Rhodes, a leader in that project, praised South’s dedication in ensuring that 250 families, many from among the area’s working poor, receive a Thanksgiving dinner and other food items.
"Regina is a very special person. She has a heart of gold. We are blessed to have her at St. Anthony’s, and I’m blessed to have her as a friend," Rhodes said.
In addition to her service in parish programs, South is active in the community and she serves on the advisory council of Catholic Charities of Central Texas.
"She was always at school volunteering," said Doreen Wentrcek, who also worked with her on the parish’s Advent angel tree, which provides 20 to 250 gifts to the needy through the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
While she enjoys helping others, South admits that sometimes she needs to step back and become less of a "Martha" and more of a "Mary," listening for the voice of God in her life. She asks herself in prayer, "Is this something that I want to do or what God wants me to do?"
For her example, faith, inspiration, organizational skills and dedication to helping those in need, South received the diocese’s 2012 Lumen Gentium Award, which recognizes lay persons who live their baptismal call in an extraordinary way through stewardship and leadership.
Parishioner Gerilyn Kleckley believes that South is a true witness of Christ-like love in action, "She is the most selfless person that I know. She is genuine and giving."