Jack and Tracey Edwards are two extraordinary Elk Grove residents whose outstanding contribution to the community has made them stand out as an inspiration to others. They are not new to community service. Jack and Tracey have been living and working in Elk Grove for 30+ years and are active with many local service organizations and charities including Elk Grove Lions Club, Elk Grove Food Bank Services, American Legion Elk Grove, The Strauss Festival, Elk Grove Youth Sports Foundation, Soroptimist International of Elk Grove and the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation. They also help many of the local service clubs and nonprofits with their online marketing and website development.
The couple was honored with the Elk Grove Citizen of the Year Award in 2020 for their tremendous efforts in giving back to the community through their involvement in many local service clubs, charities, and nonprofits. The Citizen of the Year Award is a 68-year-old tradition that honors an individual or a couple who contributes greatly to the Elk Grove community and exemplifies the meaning of giving. It is truly a community award.
Read on for an interview with Jack and Tracey to gain insight into their experiences with community service and advice for current residents that are looking to get involved.
Why is it important for community members to actively participate in local service organizations?
T – Funding can only go so far. Connected communities are made of people who choose to get involved because they see a need and want to help fill it. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any community, and Elk Grove will become stronger as people work together. There is truth in the expression, “Many hands make light work.”
The median age of service club members is rising; we need to bring in members who can keep the passion flowing and continue doing good work in their community. Volunteering doesn’t take a lot of time; it just takes some heart. And everyone has that!
J – We create our community by participating in day-to-day activities that make it a place that we can call home. Volunteering with local organizations helps us create a place where we can raise our kids and grandkids, and where they can play sports and learn good sportsmanship, or be a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout and learn about our environment and what they can do to make it better.
Together we can help create a place where veterans can get help as they transition back to civilian life, or where a retiree can get assistance. We can create a place where a person in need can get eyeglasses from the Lions Club or food from a local food bank. We can create a place where people can get to know their neighbors and make them feel welcome. All of that happens when you become a part of something bigger than yourself by volunteering with a local service club or nonprofit organization. You truly become a part of your community.
How has being so involved in giving back to the community impacted your life?
T – When we moved to Elk Grove over 30 years ago, the only local people we knew were soccer parents. When our sons aged out of soccer, we were both working for the State, which meant our friends were scattered around the city. Upon retirement, Jack became a REALTOR® and talked me into joining him, our circle of friends grew. But when I stopped being an agent my world got smaller, so I volunteered at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop and made some new friends.
Then Jack suggested I attend a Soroptimist Elk Grove meeting. The women were so warm and friendly, and they all had a purpose, a focus. Their Dream programs and projects are all about providing women and girls with access to education and training opportunities. Volunteers can be as involved as they want to be. Volunteering there has enabled me to meet women around the world who have the same focus, and it allows me to bring ideas to share with my club and others. That led me to other volunteering opportunities like Elk Grove Food Bank, Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation, and more! I have a very full life and I love it!
J – By becoming involved with the various organizations in our community, we know that we have made a difference in the lives of our neighbors. I am a member of the Elk Grove Lions Club and American Legion Post 55. Our Lions Club handles “traffic control” for the food bank’s annual turkey box pick-up event. The gratitude of the recipients helps me realize how lucky I am to be able to give back to my community. It fills my heart with love to know I play a small part in helping people connect to the resources they need and make a difference in the lives of those around me.
What is your advice for someone who wants to get involved but is not sure where to start?
T – Ask yourself, What brings me joy? Helping people? Working with animals? Interacting with a specific segment of society? Once you figure that out, you can start inquiring about opportunities to bring your talents to an organization that will help you bring that same joy to your community.
Perhaps your friend is involved with something you’d like to be a part of. If there are similar organizations, find out which one(s) meets your timeframe or availability. Ask to attend a few meetings so you can see if you like their vibe. Just do it! It’s not painful – jump in with both feet! You’ll expand your world and help others at the same time. What a gift!
J- My first suggestion would be to talk with your friends who are already involved with a local nonprofit organization. Ask what they do and how you can help. If you don’t already know someone, I suggest that you look at LivingInElkGrove.com. I maintain this site and share links for over 50 local organizations under the Non-Profits tab.
The local newspaper also lists several organizations asking for volunteers to help with local programs. Visit the organizations’ websites, check out their Facebook pages, and attend their meetings. Ask if you can volunteer at an event so you can get a feel for who they are and what they do. Your help is needed and wanted. Giving of your heart and time is the best gift of all, and it will fill your heart with joy in return.
"Leadership Elk Grove presented by the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce encourages community involvement and leadership, and it develops future leaders to improve our local economy and community. If you want to get involved and make a difference in our community, start here."