Nominated by Sunny Wells
Length of Service:
25 hours per month for 16 years
February 17, 2014
Donna Pettit Ellis, a life-long Anderson native worked 36 years with the BellSouth Telephone company. This suited well for her giving spirit, leadership abilities and heart of gold. After working at BellSouth for 21 years, employees were able to join the distinguished Telephone Pioneers Group and be community activists. Even before Donna reached her 21 years of service, she was deeply involved with the projects of this group. Soon after becoming a Telephone Pioneer, she held multiple leadership positions that rotated throughout the years. Some of the service projects taken on by the Telephone Pioneers include: hearing checks for school children, 3-wheel bicycles for the school for the Deaf & Blind, Hug-a-Bears for sick and DSS children, nursing home patients and those needing comfort during a crisis, heart pillows for open-heart patients that need something to hold when coughing or needing padding between them and the seatbelt during the ride home from the hospital and always assisting local charities such as Meals On Wheels, AIM, Soup Kitchen, Clean Start, Habitat for Humanity, etc. The project focusing on dental hygiene for children - "Big Smiles for Little Scholars" won an international award, being the only Pioneer Life Time group to receive world-wide recognition.
It seems impossible but Mrs. Ellis also finds the time for other interests. She satisfied her love for culture by being a member of the Anderson County Concert Association and holding Auditor and Membership positions. She also was a member and past president of the Melrose Garden Club and served on the Anderson Garden Council. During this time she became part of the Hands Beautification Foundation to improve the look of local businesses and roadsides. Two times she represented this Foundation in Washington D.C., receiving Distinguished Service Awards.
Donna is very passionate about her faith, family and community. Her nieces became like children when she didn't have any of her own. So much that she was active in their schools' PTA. Being in the schools she saw how distracting and upsetting it was when the children were sick and needed care. It wasn't long till Donna was granted permission to use one of the rooms at the old McCants Middle School and make it a Health Room. Donna brought in carpet, curtains and a bed to make it feel more like home. The room was formally named the "Donna Pettit Health Room". The school offered to pay her as a substitute teacher because she was spending so many hours there but she refused.
Mrs. Ellis keeps a full calendar. She has been an active volunteer with Hospice of the Upstate since 1998 when the Rainey Hospice House opened. Donna began her volunteer work as a switchboard operator volunteering more than 40 hours a week. She does clerical work, trains other volunteers and holds the hand of indigent patients who have no one with them to mark their passing. It was Donna who led the campaign for a Bellsouth Pioneer room at the Rainey Hospice House.
Donna served as president of S.A.G.ES. (Survivors After Grief Ever Serving). She presided at each meeting and was instrumental in organizing events and planning activities. This group was together for 15 years, starting as a bereavement support group then transforming into one of our biggest service groups for Hospice of the Upstate. S.A.G.E.S. hosted annual Chili Luncheons. The proceeds from the Chili Luncheon benefited Hospice of the Upstate in many ways: furnishing the patio for outdoor dining, installing handicap accessible doors in Rose Dining Hall and the Sadler Bereavement and Education Center, as well as provide furnishings for a counseling room in the Rainey Hospice House.
Currently, Donna serves as an Ambassador welcoming patients and their families into the Rainey Hospice House as well as volunteering on the switchboard as needed. Donna works multiple days a week.
As if all of this wasn't enough, Donna decided to get her Master's in Ministry of Theology at the young age of 82. After completing her Master's she has gone on to get her Doctorate of Theology. Donna is exceptional and never ceases to amaze us.
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