Students occasionally "pull all-nighters" in last-minute bids to complete assignments or study for tests, but you rarely find adults willing to stay awake around the clock. Jill Lowe will do whatever it takes to serve a good cause, even if it means staying up all night.
For Lowe, a longtime staff assistant in the physical plant office, the sleepless night is a calling rather than an academic necessity. An all-night walk around a track is the centerpiece event for the "Relay for Life," an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Lowe co-chaired the event in Mooresville for several years, and has continued to help in Davidson, ever since students established the annual event that occurs in Richardson Stadium.
"All of us have been touched by cancer," Lowe said. "My mother died of ovarian cancer at age 54 after battling it for six years."
On a campus where community service is a hallmark, Lowe serves as a role model. From her desk in the physical plant complex on the perimeter of campus, she has served others in many ways since joining the college staff in 2001.
Her official duty is serving as "the front door to the physical plant," taking phone calls about needed building repairs, filing work orders for event setup, and managing the motor pool. But she's almost always got some need or cause unofficially on her mind. She joked, "I'm always putting out a contribution jar on my desk, and people just help. There's a real service attitude in working here."
She and her college colleague Brenda Harvey won an award for their Relay for Life efforts in 2006 from the Center for Community Service, but that event is only one of many ways Lowe seeks to help her community.
She was a team captain in helping raise funds for a local women's health center. She successfully lobbied the Mooresville Town Council to build a skateboard park to give youngsters a safe place to practice. She helped assemble gift bags for the families of premature infants hospitalized in Charlotte. She has become involved with twice-a-year outreach in a poor area of the Tennessee mountains, helping out a friend since fifth grade who, along with her husband, founded a ministry there.
Lowe has bought groceries for people at the checkout station in Wal Mart when they didn't have sufficient funds, and she always hosts a dinner for Davidson's Odyssey pre-orientation trip participants. She and other physical plant workers organized a benefit hot dog roast to raise funds for a colleague whose young son had cancer.
A native of Mooresville, Lowe traces her compulsion to serve others back to being president of her Methodist Church youth group. "I just love to plan things and be involved in worthwhile organizations," she said. "I'm an administrator. I enjoy compiling mailing lists, creating data bases and sending out newsletters-the meager tasks that other people don't want to do."
She also credits her civic-minded parents, who were both regularly involved with community causes and civic clubs. "The apple didn't fall far from the tree!" she joked. "They were a real model for me growing up."
She and Robbie, her husband of 29 years who works in Davidson's athletic maintenance area, are now helping close to home-in their home, in fact. Their daughter and her year-old son are living with Jill and Robbie while their son-in-law serves a second deployment with the military to Afghanistan.
As you might expect, Jill has found a way to help the soldier and his comrades. She recently raised nearly $1,300 for "Operation Bandanas," an initiative to donate camouflaged bandanas for soldiers in her son-in-law's unit. The bandanas are imprinted with the text of Psalm 91 to remind soldiers that they are not alone. If nothing else, they have God's love – and Jill's too.