Retired principal fills her need to serve

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 13, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – As a principal of Leon Godchaux Junior High School, Elexia Henderson knew her students needed a ‘caring’ atmosphere to thrive. Now retired, she brings that same sense of empathy and understanding to her volunteer work at River Parishes Hospital.

Henderson began at the hospital when it first opened 22 years ago. She devoted time after school duties at her regular job were completed.

After retirement from the St. John Parish school system in 1984, she was able to log in more volunteer hours.

“I always wanted to help people who have a need,” she said. “The need here at the hospital is for the families, as well as the patients.”

Shortly after her retirement, the former principal was approached by St. John Parish school system. They needed a director for the development of an Alternative Program.

She accepted, and had to leave her hospital work behind.

“I knew I would be back,” said the energetic retiree. “I thought I would be gone for only about a year, but I stayed with the program for three years.”

During that time, the outgoing Mr. Airy resident kept in touch with her ‘family’ of volunteers and the Hospital Auxiliary. She also stopped in once or twice a month to lend a hand.

Henderson returned fullforce to her volunteer work at River Parishes Hospital after the school program was developed and has been there ever since.

Through the years, this busy lady has seen many changes in St. John Parish, both in the educational atmosphere and the community. She wants to continue to be a vital part of those sectors.

To that end, Henderson serves on many boards and committees. Among those are the St. John Parish School Board, the Council on Aging and the United Way.

Although the former educator is retired, her schedule rivals that of two working persons. But, no matter how full her calendar, she still finds time to spend with her family: Brandon, of Mt. Airy; Wendell, of LaPlace and her six grandchildren.

Henderson’s advice to those contemplating volunteer work is simple: It is better to give than to receive. “There is a great satisfaction at the end of your day,” she added. “To be able to give of yourself is a blessing.”

For information on volunteer work at River Parishes Hospital, call Claudette Henry at 651-1482.