SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- "Being able to be present with people, really in their darkest hour and being able to offer help and hope is really something that is fulfilling to me."
President and CEO of United Way of the Ozarks' Debi Meeds' community service tour lasted 35 years. Her passion for helping others started in seventh grade.
"Someone from [American] Red Cross came to our school and said ‘You can be a light in the darkness," Meeds said. "And I think that's what changed everything for me."
Meeds' career took her first took her to Korea, where she helped out the U.S. Army. Then, she went to Seattle. And finally, Springfield. She learned a valuable lesson from her trip around the world.
"You can't always help everyone," Meeds said. "But the fact is we can help someone. Everyone can help someone."
An important partner of Meeds' company is Community Partnership of the Ozarks. President and CEO of CPO, Janet Dankert, befriended Meeds through her ten years working with her. Dankert says she appreciates how dedicated Meeds was to her work.
"She's very passionate about what she does, about serving the community, she's very fun, and she's very kind-hearted," Dankert said. "Working with her is very easy."
Meeds is set to retire in august. But, she doesn't want to say good bye to Springfield. So, she leaves her role at United Way of the Ozarks with one last message.
"Thank you to this community," Meeds said. "It has been a blessing to serve here. Thank you for allowing me to serve."