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February 1, 2014

THE EXTRA MILER: A steady influence in Southern Indiana

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Julie Schwerer, the Center for Lay Ministries Bliss House Director, explained why she recommended Gary Steedly as an Extra Miler. “When it comes to giving back to our community, Gary just can’t help himself…he is invested in seeing people succeed in life and is willing to go that extra mile to ensure he helps when needed.”  

Extra Miler Steedly was pulled from one of his community service groups to be interviewed. He was participating in the Prosecutor’s Community Resource Team, which was created by Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson to involve several area specialists to resolve issues and concerns surrounding Floyd County.  

Prosecutor Henderson explained Gary’s involvement in the Resource Team. “Gary conducts the Theft Deception Program for the prosecutor’s office in that many of the diverted or convicted shoplifters are required to attend two Saturdays of instruction with the goal of not reoffending. Gary has done a tremendous job with these individuals.”

When asked to provide all the volunteer activities he is involved in for our community, Gary began to shift in his seat.  He asked, “Are you talking about just the past couple of years?” Turns out, his question was valid, as Gary has been actively serving on non-profit boards and voluntarily providing training, guidance and advise to people and organizations in our community for many years.  

Gary served more than 20 years on the Community Corrections Board. Prosecutor Henderson has known Gary for more than 12 years and admires his dedication to the people of Southern Indiana. He stated, “Gary’s guidance and counsel as a Community Corrections Board member helped to elevate our Floyd County Community Corrections to one of the best in the State. One of Gary’s attributes that stands out is that he is an individual who looks first for the good in others and not the bad.”  

Gary considers himself to be officially retired; however, he stays busy with multiple volunteer efforts and still teaches at Webster University (HR Development). One of his favorite volunteer activities is the work he does with his wife (Judy Steedly) for their church, St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville. He has served on the church council for four years and recently served as the council president.  

Gary also works every Friday with Meals on Wheels. He has 16 stops and serves 42 meals. Gary said, “I really like working with Meals on Wheels, as I get to meet people and see places in Southern Indiana that I normally wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.”  

Then there is Rotary Club on Tuesdays and also the work he does as the chairman for the Relay for Life. After mentioning the Relay for Life, Gary became solemn and stated, “The Relay for Life work I do really has a special place in my heart. I have lost a number of friends to cancer and my brother is a cancer survivor and still battles the disease.”  His empathy for those who have suffered and continue to suffer from this disease is obvious.    

Julie Schwerer noted how Gary reaches out to individuals and groups across Southern Indiana. “On the occasions that I have called him to ask for guidance or for workshops, he has arrived on our doorstep in record time to see what he could do to help. Often a phone call would of sufficed, but not for Gary. He truly cares about others and eagerly answers the call to service.”  

Julie went on to explain how our Extra Miler became invested in the residents of the Bliss House. “When he first started working with the Bliss House residents, he became extremely concerned about the stress levels he discovered during their early recovery period. Gary began providing our residents with sessions on emotional intelligence, to help them deal with this stress.”

Gary also believes maintaining a healthy body is important. He has run in the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon for 34 years and puts about 600 miles on each pair of tennis shoes he owns. He also works out regularly at the YMCA.  

When asked how he became involved in community work, Gary quickly pointed out that his parents were very giving people — involved in this community and in their church.  While one of his favorite authors is Stephen Covey, Gary quoted Muhammad Ali to describe the service obligation everyone should acknowledge, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

While others describe our Extra Miler with words like dedicated, thoughtful, contemplative, and compassionate, our Extra Miler believes he could best be described as a busy and caring person.  

Gary Steedly, there is no doubt you are a caring (and busy) citizen of our community. Thank you dedicating a significant portion of your life helping others and for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.

• TIP OF THE MONTH: Our Extra Miler believes we should all start this new year out by giving back to our community.  He explained, “Look at volunteerism as an opportunity to pay it forward, especially with all that we have been given — freedom and life's necessities.”  Gary Steedly believes we should all make giving back to our community something that we naturally expect of ourselves.

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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