Evette Randolph is a "do-gooder" in the very best sense of the term.
She is on the boards of Friends of the Park and the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum, and she's a member of the Abita Springs Women's Society.
Randolph was recently recognized by Mayor Greg Lemons for her volunteerism and named Volunteer of the Year, an award Randolph was decidedly not expecting.
“I have to say I am humbled and was completely caught by surprise by the mayor at our last Town Council meeting,” she said. “I was told I needed to come to the meeting to give a report on the Water Festival and then was given this award. It was a complete surprise.”
For Lemons, who spearheaded the selection process, finding the right candidate was easy.
“I decided that we needed to recognize volunteerism and the role it plays in Abita Springs' growth and quality of life," he said. "It was a simple selection for me. Evette Randolph is our volunteer coordinator for most of our events. She steps up without asking and expects no recognition. She has a lot of talent and experience in putting on events. She knows what needs to be done and has the experience to get it done right. I don’t have to ask. She just volunteers.”
Randolph was raised in Abita Springs, and her connection to the community stems from her family and its longtime love affair with the town.
“My great-grandfather, Harry Strain, bought the property I live on now and was a watercress farmer," Randolph said. "My grandfather, Ray Nugent, was a teacher and coach at the original Abita Springs Grammar School. My parents moved here in 1971 from Gretna when I was a year old. I think it was one of the best decisions they ever made."
Randolph's parents taught her the value of volunteerism at an early age.
“I have always volunteered, and it is due to the way I was raised,” she said. “My mother, Barbara Penton, was the secretary for the PTA, my Brownie troop leader, my brother's Boy Scout den mother, the treasurer for the ARC, the scorekeeper at my basketball and softball games, the scorekeeper at my brother's baseball games, and she was a substitute teacher.
"My father, W.B. Penton, was the guy who was always helping someone and would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it. So I come by it honestly.”
Randolph’s involvement with Abita Springs and Mandeville volunteer groups, green-space improvements, Trailhead Museum events, festivals and more is about fostering relationships with her neighbors, she said.
“If you knew the people in this town you couldn't help but want to volunteer next to them,” she said. “What I love most is that I get to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the most amazing people. (We work) toward goals that benefit our town and sometimes even outside our borders.”
A recent, spur-of-the-moment call to help those affected by one of this summer’s storms raised funds with an old-fashioned block party, Randolph said.
“After Hurricane Harvey, I got a call from a friend on a Friday night saying they wanted to put together a fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank. We all met up Saturday morning on her front porch. By Monday evening, we had put together a fundraiser at the Abita Mystery House with five bands, potluck brought in by the community, and we had raised $5,000,” she said.
"I get to hang out with some pretty cool people and do some good," Randolph said of her volunteerism. "What's wrong with that?"