A Sharpened Focus

Posted: January 27, 2021, 12:00 am

Recent Silent Heroes aim to change lives through acts big and small

From left, Barbara Palmer, Janice Skipper and Syble Harper earned Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass awards recently. Palmer and Skipper represented the New Post Oak Assembly of God ladies ministry in Hartford.

One sentence explains what motivates Syble Harper daily: “If I can help someone feel better today, I’m so happy.”

A similar focus also drives the ladies ministry of Hartford’s New Post Oak Assembly of God.

These sentiments recently earned them Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass honors, which come with a $1,000 check courtesy of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s (WEC's) Operation Round Up and a partnership with WTVY News 4.

“We’re thankful that WTVY News 4 partners with us to regularly honor those who quietly serve our communities in incredible ways,” says WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “Even the smallest actions and gifts make a tremendous impact over time, and these ladies are a testament to that.”

“There are so many people who are doing extraordinary things to help others, and they go unnoticed,” adds Reginald Jones, WTVY’s evening anchor. “WTVY and Wiregrass Electric Cooperative are trying to change that with some recognition. We appreciate all of the Silent Heroes’ efforts to make life better.”

Syble Harper

Harper’s commitment to serving others is visible in several ways. She takes on the daily tasks of feeding and bathing three bedridden people who live with her in Ashford. She also routinely checks on a few others who need care but live elsewhere.

WTVY News 4 anchor Reginald Jones, left, and Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Chief Financial Officer Brad Kimbro, right, discuss Syble Harper's community contributions during a Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass presentation.

Sometimes Harper answers unexpected calls, too, like when a man fell in his yard at 2 a.m. She arrived on the scene and called an ambulance for further assistance.

She does all of those things at 83 years old.

“The Lord gives me strength,” she says. “I used to be strong and could do anything. I fell two years ago and messed myself up. Most of the time, I like to use my walking stick. But you know what? Me and that walking stick will go wherever anybody calls us.”

Harper’s actions impressed Jones, who presents the Silent Heroes honor on behalf of WTVY. “How exceptional is that?” he says. “It goes to show you that you can help at any age.”

Harper, who is a WEC member, humbly deflects the attention and says she plans to donate the money gifted to her to two churches.

“God’s been so good to me,” she says. “In the past year, I’ve had so many heartaches, but I get up every morning and thank him for saving my soul and giving me the energy to do what I do for people.”

New Post Oak Ladies Ministry

Janice Skipper and Barbara Palmer, middle, accept a $1,000 check from the WEC Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation on behalf of the New Post Oak Assembly of God ladies ministry in Hartford. Presenting the check were WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro, right, and WTVY News 4 anchor Reginald Jones.

About 20 people regularly attend the New Post Oak Assembly of God Church southeast of Hartford, but the congregation’s size doesn’t impede the contributions the church’s ladies ministry makes to the Wiregrass area.

“We meet every three months and think of some projects that we can do. that will help people. We do the best that we can,” says Barbara Palmer, one of the ministry’s participants.

The projects vary. At times, the ladies support families who have ill loved ones. At others, they collect — and make — blankets and socks to donate to nursing home patients in Geneva, Hartford, and Bonifay, Florida.

They even donate baskets of necessities to the House of Ruth, a sanctuary for women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and they’ve fed first responders.

The ministry’s mainstay project, though, occurs every September. The ladies gather to throw a baby shower for the family ministry Wiregrass Hope Group — complete with one of them dressing up like a pregnant woman.

“You’d be amazed what we can gather for Wiregrass Hope,” Palmer says.

“Some of the ladies buy stuff all year long,” adds Janice Skipper, another New Post Oak ladies ministry member.

Palmer and Skipper both appreciate the gift from Operation Round Up, which is funded when WEC members voluntarily round their energy bills up to the next dollar.

“We appreciate the money,” Palmer says. “We’ll put it to good use. It’ll help us to do more.”

To nominate someone for the Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass award, visit the WTVY website.