Name: Dr. Jonas Gadson
Congregation: Beaufort Church of Christ
Involved for: Nine years
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Coming home. I moved back in 2005. I graduated from Beaufort High in 1971, and I started mission work in Beaufort, and that's when I planted the church to help my community spiritually. ... I lived in Rochester, N.Y., for 33 years. I worked at Eastman Kodak Company and Xerox. At Eastman Kodak, I used to train people. But even in Rochester, I was very active in the community there, and I've continued my activity in South Carolina. I would come home, two and three times a year, to where I was born on St. Helena Island.
Inspiring the leaders of tomorrow. I do a lot of work with the youth as well. I will be speaking at the youth conference in September, encouraging the youth. That's one of my passions. I believe the young people make up 25 percent of our population, but they're 100 percent of our future. I just did a three-day workshop for free at Bluffton Middle School for boys. ... I've done the same workshop at the Technical College of the Lowcountry for boys. This is about the third time I'll be on the program for the youth conference here at the technical college, working hard with our youth and to help build them with communication skills and conflict resolution and help them to make wiser choices and help them to realize that greatness is in them, and just to cultivate what is possible for them, what they can do and what they can be.
A bonus from Jonas. Since I've been back, I've taken the training for the United Way because I've helped raise millions of dollars in Rochester, leading my division for United Way. ... I'm active in Toastmasters, so I help people communicate more effectively, work on their leadership. ... I was inducted in the Beaufort High School Hall of Fame in 2010 for my professionalism, service and leadership. I'm a professional speaker, too, and an author. My motto that everybody knows me by, whether I'm speaking at the church or whether I'm speaking at the schools or secular, is, "Since greatness is possible, excellence is not enough. Go for greatness." Very few people know me by Jonas Gadson ... because when I'm speaking professionally and in the church, my tagline is, "Here's your first bonus, and you'll only get your first bonus from Jonas." So a lot of people don't even know my last name.
Loving others. I love people, and I love to help people to live their dreams, their goals and their aspirations. I believe my purpose is to help them live theirs. I just love that. I learned a lot of this from my mom, and my mother used to always teach me. She said, "Boy, manners will take you where money won't." And I've lived long enough to say I know that's right.
Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.