As an All-American football player at Louisiana State University, NFL Pro Bowler, and head coach at LSU, you’d think Jerry Stovall would have lots of stories about his playing days and time as a football coach, and he does. However, it’s his time as a Sunday school teacher and lessons learned from his father that highlighted his speech and the Baton Rouge Corps’ first Shield of Hope dinner.
The Baton Rouge Corps has big plans for the future of The Salvation Army. The Corps broke ground earlier this year on what will soon be a new shelter and plans for a community center serving up to 250 children daily are also in the works.
“We are going to continue making the kind of difference the people around our community deserve,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge Corps officer.
This dinner was a first of its kind effort to make Captain Meredith’s plans and ideas a reality, but as Advisory Board President Gerald Garrison said, they need help.
“It’s going to be a group effort, no doubt, from local partners and businesses to individuals around our community,” said Garrison.
It’s those individuals Stovall focused on from the podium on this night.
“Jesus instructs us to love people anyway. He loved me anyway,” said Stovall.
It’s the love of Jesus and the love of his earthly father that allowed him to overcome the death of his new born daughter, allowed him to reconcile with his mother who never saw him play a game in the NFL, and showed him how to love his wife.
“We cannot always control the circumstances we are in, but we can control ourselves,” said Stovall.
It’s here that Stovall’s message intertwines with the mission of The Salvation Army.
“When you got people who are less fortunate, you’ve got to help them anyway.” said Stovall.
Through his life, Stovall says there are two things he’s found that don’t cost a thing and don’t require any special training…to love and to serve.
“Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it,” said Stovall.
Right now, The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge is doing what they are supposed to do by loving, serving, and taking care of those in the community who need it the most.
We are a Shield of Hope.