Mary Emma Potts is the 2011 recipient of AARP Alabama’s Andrus Award for Community Service. Potts, 89, has led a life of community service, beginning 40 years ago when she volunteered at the local hospital’s snack bar.
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Potts said she soon realized that, more than serving sandwiches and a hot cup of coffee, she was providing a place of comfort where people could laugh, cry or just talk about what they were experiencing with their loved ones in the hospital. It was there that her spirit of volunteerism was born, and from that moment on, she has used her skills as a former social worker and her strong faith to improve her community and the lives of her neighbors.
The Fairhope resident currently offers comfort, kind words and a hot meal to homeless families in Baldwin County through Family Promise, an organization that provides long-term temporary housing to homeless families.
During the last four decades, she has been an active volunteer in a number of capacities throughout Baldwin County. She was a member of the first Beautification Board of Fairhope and developed policy guidelines for the City Planning Commission that are still in effect today. As an active member and former President of the Wisteria Garden Club, she worked with the annual Tour of Homes and also served on numerous committees. She was a founding Board member of the Seniors’ Best program for Thomas Hospital, a membership-based program addressing specific healthcare and lifestyle needs of the senior population.
She served the Episcopal Diocese of the Gulf Coast and St. James Episcopal Church in a number of ways, including service on the Committee for Ministry, as a Senior Warden of the Vestry, Chairman of the Newcomers Committee and President of the Diocesan Women. She founded the church brunch and supper clubs, initiated the Memorial Garden of St. James, chaired the Alter Guild for 28 years, and established the first scholarships for High School graduates in the church.
Potts will be honored at the annual AARP Alabama volunteer appreciation event in November.