By Tammy Moore Teague
Jim Sher, a resident of Waldron, is on a mission. That mission is one of community service, and one Sher and his family employ daily.
He and his wife, Amy Sher came to the United States from Laos. They have two daughters, Angelina Sher, 17, and Alicia Sher, 12. The family moved to Waldron in 2003. “We are just a simple, ordinary family. We have the love and passion to be involved with the community locally and globally. My family mission began about 13 years ago after we sold our chicken farm in 2005.”
Although rheumatoid arthritis has impacted his health, it has not kept him from doing what he loves to do the most, and that’s helping in the community. “My family is proud to call ourselves community activists,” Sher added. He recalled the initial “mission” which eventually lead him to discover his life’s calling. “I can still vividly remember our first family mission 13 years ago. My older daughter and I tried to raise money for the Waldron Elementary School PTO by having her dance a Chinese culture dance in the freezing weather. Although we had only raised about $17, we felt that it was a good start for our family mission.”
One year later, Sher gathered a group of Laotian children to entertain people at the Nursing Home, Senior Center, Boys & Girls Club and Waldron Elementary School by performing Lao culture dances. “My family felt that in order to give back to the community, we had to reach out to them. So I visited a local medical clinic, hospital, and police station and offered to be an interpreter. I also offered a free service to others, especially to my beloved Lao people, with filling out any kind of forms, applying for food stamps, unemployment, drivers license, Green Card, Social Security retirement or disability benefits.”
Sher and his wife knew first hand the difficulties they faced while becoming U.S. citizens. “When my wife had a difficult time studying for the U.S. citizenship exam ten years ago, I came up with the idea of translating the study guide into the Lao language to help Lao people to better understand and go through the process to becoming a U.S. citizen.”
Sher has spent the last nine years volunteering at the Waldron Elementary School, assisting students to and from the school, ensuring their safety in the car line. Additionally, the family participates in the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Clean-Up event bi-annually. “When my older daughter won first place for the Keep Arkansas Beautiful poster contest, it gave my family the idea of picking up trash and recyclable items along the side of the streets to keep our city and environment clean and beautiful. We also organize a Keep Arkansas Beautiful clean-up event twice a year.”
Sher is an avid reader, and has shared many of his ideas in the newspaper. His desire to share this passion has also prompted him to want to write a book in the future. “To be honest, I had no clue what brought me to be involved with helping the community so passionately. I just know that it all came down from my heart, and I wanted to be able to do something for others since I had some free time. I wrote an article called “We Can Be Our Own Hero” after I watched CNN HERO for the first time. That is what gives me the driving force. My two role models are Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi.”
Perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments is his family’s egg roll fundraiser. They have been doing this for the past decade. These fundraisers have benefitted the local community and places like Children’s Miracle Network. “My family mission might not make a whole lot of difference in people’s lives, but as long as we make an impact more or less to others,” added Sher.
Sher says his biggest challenge is not having enough time to do all the good things he would like to do. “My philosophy is very simple,” said Sher. “I Believe in KARMA and live with dignity, and die with wonderful memories for others. My simple advice for others is that life is too short, and it’s never too late to do something for ourselves and others. Whatever we do for others, do it from our heart and never ask for anything in return. My family feels that life is not just about us, but also about others. We should all lend a helping hand from one another when we are in need of help. Living together in peace and harmony is one of the main key in life.”
By Tammy Moore Teague