Today’s Motivational Monday celebrates Stephanie Spradley Sears.
Odyssey Media’s Chief Operating Officer is also our Senior Vice President of Operations and Community Relations. By day, she keeps Odyssey running smoothly but evenings and weekends, she is the beating heart of her community. From running her polling place in Palm Beach County to serving as the Director of the Food Ministry at Peaceful Zion Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Stephanie is a force of nature.
“Our children are watching us, we have to set an example that honors the sacrifices and bloodshed of our ancestors. Passing down a knowledge of our history, our culture, and our commitment to service, is our best hope for the future.”
—Stephanie Spradley Sears
The year was 2000. It was the election known for the ‘hanging chads.’ Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke at a rally in Florida about the importance of holding communities accountable and the need to get involved in the electoral process. His closing admonition, “I am going back to my state, but it is up to you to make sure that your community is represented.” At that moment, Stephanie made up her mind to work the polls. In a community with virtually no diversity in its poll workers, she started out as a precinct advisor, you know, the person they send you to when there is a problem. Little did the other poll workers know that Stephanie was an Odyssey Jedi-Master of solving problems.
Soon, she was the go-to person at the polls, finding names on the rolls that others could not find and understanding questions across language and culture, also finding clerical errors to resolve even more problems. Before Stephanie, people would simply leave if their name wasn’t located on the rolls, now they had someone who would take the time to find their registration. Other polling places fought to get Stephanie for their location. She rose in the ranks from serving as a fixer to overseeing her own polling place for the last 10 years. Along the way she has inspired over 17 people to serve as poll workers. Her goal is to help people to exercise their right to vote.
For many, the work at the polls would be enough, but for Stephanie, this is just one of many opportunities to serve the members of her community. A local investigative reporter watched as she led to the effort to feed over a hundred families in a single day. As the Director of the Food Ministry at her church, Peaceful Zion Missionary Baptist Church, she has turned the fellowship hall of her church into a food bank that serves anyone in Palm Beach County. Her Pastor, Reverend Edward Woodbury has given her a free hand and hoisted tents weekly to ensure the success of this community effort. People drive up in their cars, pop their trunks, and a box with a meal fit for a family is dropped in their trunk.
According to Stephanie, many of their customers are working families who can no longer make ends meet. The goal is to get these proud men and women to recognize that we must all help each other. If requested, Stephanie will organize her relatives to drop food at their homes. In a pandemic, she says, we have to reach out to help each other. We may not be able to give hugs, but we can deliver food to help people make it until this is over.
Stephanie believes that one person can make a difference. If you ask the residents of Palm Beach County, Stephanie Spradley Sears is the difference.