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Allred Dedicates Her Life to Working for People in NeedDate: 10/17/2018
By Kev Moyè
DHS Media Specialist/Writer
The West Race Baptist Church family life center was empty and quiet as a mouse. The only light that shined through came from the kitchen.
That’s where Teresa Allred stood over a sink and cut open a plastic wrapper while water ran into a large metal pot. Allred took a deep breath before putting a ham into the pot.
Soon, slightly after 3 p.m., two friends join Allred, who had already worked six hours at the White County office as a Division of County Operations (DCO) program eligibility specialist.
But why is she at church, cooking food on weekday afternoon?
Allred was preparing food for the Community Table project, which she helped establish last November. Twice a month, the Community Table feeds about 100 needy, elderly, or sick people in the Searcy area.
“I do this because I care,” Allred said. “Also, I think of my dad who needed someone to cook nice meals for him once he got older.”
While working for DHS, Allred approaches her job of processing program applications and renewals and conducting client interviews with that same compassion.
In fact, sometimes Allred becomes teary-eyed when thinking of the people she serves. Allred first learned about empathy while growing up in Hayti, Missouri, a Delta town located in the bootheel.
“Most people in my hometown depended on farming to survive. My family was poor, too,” she said. “I had food to eat, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head. I didn’t have much else, but I was happy. I often watched my mom and grandmother do what they could to help our neighbors.”
Spending time in the Air Force, as part of its medical staff, also shaped Allred’s views on humanity.
“Seeing what I saw in Iraq … it forever changed me. I had to help people when they were terrified and hurt,” she said.
Allred was deployed to the Middle East with her reserve unit in 2003. When she returned stateside, she eventually started her tenure with DHS.
“Working for this agency is not easy, but it’s fulfilling because I help people overcome a difficult situation,” she said. “Knowing that makes it easy to come to work.”
Allred works hard for DHS and the Community Table, but that’s not all she does.
Allred puts together bed time bags for Searcy’s foster care closet, and she makes holiday care packages for the homeless and for nursing home residents. She also creates holiday food boxes for the children of West Race Baptist.
In May of, 2017, Allred, and a coworker, led a food drive for flood victims in Randolph and Lawrence Counties.
A selfless perspective maintains Allred’s fire for civic service.
“If a person makes $10,000 a year and they’re struggling, they need help,” she said. “So why not do your best to help them out?”
(Teresa Allred was nominated and featured for the Living the Mission series at DHS, which focuses on staff members who go above and beyond their typical functions. If you know someone who lives the mission of DHS and should be featured for the Living the Mission series, contact Kev Moyè at firstname.lastname@example.org.)