Why you want to know Fran Louise Searcy: At 21 years old, Fran Searcy joined the Church at the Cathedral, serving in various capacities including still being on the cleaning committee, dusting pews and adjusting the books. In March, Searcy was honored with the 2016 Oldest Volunteer award from the Arkansas Gerontological Society. She has been volunteering at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center for 11 years, cooking and serving lunch to fellow seniors on Wednesdays. Once a month for about 16 years, she and others from the Cathedral cook and serve dinner at Our House homeless shelter in Little Rock. For 18 years, she has been a Master Gardener, volunteering at several locations, including the Arkansas State Hospital and the Old State House.
Parish: Cathedral of St. Andrew, Little Rock
Family: Late husband Dr. James Ben Searcy; two daughters, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren
IN HER OWN WORDS
Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year is “Grow in your Family of Faith.” What are some ways you learn about Jesus and Church teachings?
I say my prayers every day. One of the things I call my spiritual time, I have a big yard and a big deck and about dusk every afternoon I go out there and sit and look at, I have some pine trees in my backyard and they sway back and forth in the breeze and the birds and everything. I feel like I’m very close to the big man upstairs.
What did it mean to you to receive the 2016 Oldest Volunteer award?
I was really stunned, I had no idea. I guess my first thought was why am I getting an award for doing things I love doing?
Has there ever been a volunteer project that’s really touched your heart?
There was a young lady at Our House one night, I had seen her there for you know a couple, three months. They told me one night she wanted to see me so I went out and she says, “Can I give you a hug?” and I said, “Well, sure.” She said you all are so polite, kind, she said I just wanted to give you a hug and let you know how much we appreciate you.
How has volunteering increased your faith?
That’s kind of hard to answer, honey. I was almost murdered at one time. I had a long recuperation period, emotionally and physically. I had a lot of thinking time and of course my priorities got put in kind of a different order. And I think I always believed God left me here for a reason and that’s one of the reasons I volunteer.
Four months after your husband died and while you were living with your elderly mother, you said an 18-year-old broke into your house on Feb. 26, 1992 at about 2:30 in the morning, planning to steal your car. He was eventually caught. What did he do to you?
I would say my husband woke me up. (The man) was standing over my bed with a pillow in his hand and he came down over my head with a pillow, but I fought him off and kept fighting him. I fell on the floor, knocked the telephone off and everything that was on the night table. He beat me with a hammer. I have no feeling in a finger, crushed this finger, broke my hand in a few places. I’ve got scars, you can see here (on my head). I had 48 staples and stitches in my head … I was in the hospital 26 days. … Volunteering is a way for me to sometimes come to grips with things.
Do you have any hobbies outside of volunteering?
For as long as I can remember I always tap-danced … A man did some work on the back of my house, I asked him to give me a board, siding … He cut me a piece so that’s what I use to tap dance on … usually at least a couple times a week. I get my little radio out there or sometimes I just hum to myself.
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