Londa Matthews is comfortable helping people in her job as branch manger at the Audubon Regional Library in Jackson and as a community volunteer.
While she’s always tried to help those in need, a recent bout with cancer spurred Matthews to make every day count through service.
Her mother died from cancer in 1988 when Matthews was 22. It was then, Matthews said, that she knew she was put on this Earth to help others.
“After my mother passed away, I took on the task of raising my 4-year-old brother and 14-year-old sister. Of course you can see the age difference, elementary and beginning high school, teaching one ABCs and helping the other with algebra along with wanting to be a cheerleader. it was difficult,” said Matthews.
Help came from everywhere in the family, Matthews said, but it was still tough.
“With the help of family and friends, but most of all, my God, everything came out all right,” said Matthews.
While raising her brother and sister, sitting at home became boring to Matthews, so she decided to become a substitute teacher in East Feliciana Parish, which led her to the job of becoming a LEAP aide at Jackson Middle School.
After the LEAP program ended, she took a job at Clinton Elementary as a classroom aide for kindergarten through fourth grade.
In 2000, while at Clinton, Matthews enrolled at Southern University to continue her study in elementary education, eventually graduating in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in child development.
She then started working as a substitute teacher in the West Feliciana Parish school system’s Family Service Center.
She worked there for several years and moved to the Quad Area Head Start in Clinton.
In 2009, Matthews became the branch manager at the Audubon Regional Library in Jackson.
Since she began working at the library, Matthews said she’s come across some wonderful people.
Matthews said her passion is for the children and the elderly and being able to help them when they need it.
Her passion for helping others began in April 2012 when Matthews was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I was not upset about it, but I had a lot of questions that needed to be answered,” she said.
After her diagnosis, Matthews said she turned to her faith in God.
“God was working with me and the people I had to meet on this journey,” she said.
Her mother died from breast cancer at 42, Matthews said, and when she reached that age she was terrified.
“I thought I was going to die too. The question was always there, and, the closer it got to my birthday that year, the harder I began to pray,” she said
“I was terrified because I knew I had passed that mark.”
People she didn’t know rallied around Matthews, providing her with a will to live.
She is now cancer-free.
“That journey has led me to talking to people and trying to give the faith and reassurance that I was given on mine,”she said.
Her journey leads her to be more passionate for people, she said.
She began helping people more in the library and on her daily walk if she could.
In April 2015, Matthews was asked if she would like to help with feeding the residents at Jackson Manor.
“Instead of me just helping out, I wanted to cook full-course meals for them. I would cook for them every other month or when I was allowed. I wasn’t doing this to be seen; I was doing it because I don’t know when or where I will need someone to do something for me and, when I had my round with cancer, people encouraged me, some I knew and some I didn’t,” Matthews said.
Beth Dawson, a physical education teacher when Matthews was in high school, said Matthews was a great student and now she’s a great community employee and servant.
“She is a person that always goes the extra mile and gives 110 percent. As the town librarian, she doesn’t just sit at her desk and check out books; she helps students with all sorts of tasks like finding a practice ACT test,” Dawson said.
“She helps her clients get the printouts they need, and the activities that she does with the children are a blessing. The list of activities that she does for the community goes on and on. The town of Jackson is blessed to have her,” said Dawson.
The library has been good to her, Matthews said, and she hopes to stick around for a long time.
“I want everyone that enters into the Audubon Regional Library in Jackson to know that I love them and thank them for their support,” she said. “We are moving into a new age, and things will be changing and new things will be coming to the library.”