Remembering Jean Odom

Editor’s note: Adams County lost a resident who made a difference on February 24 with the passing of Jean Odom.  Odom was a continual contributor to the good of the county. Odom’s son Darryl Jones, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Gettysburg College, said she was “an amazing example and a bright light.” The following are remarks made by Cherry Arvin at Odom’s funeral on Saturday.

By Cherry Arvin

I worked with Jean at SCCAP.  I started fresh out of college in 1981 and retired in 2018 after 37 years. My one and only place of employment. I started as a CETA caseworker and as we all know in the social service field funding comes and funding goes. 

From a caseworker, I moved to the Youth Center where I worked closely with Jean’s sister, Anne and then through the center I came to know Lori, Shelley, David, Diana, and Barry. 

After a few years there I then moved to Emergency Services and then to the Administrative Assistant position where Jean became my boss.  I then worked in the Accounting Department and from there I held my last position at SCCAP as the Grant Writer/Planner. 

Before I go any further I want to thank Lori, Shelly and Darryl for sharing their mom with me as well as with all of us.  You shared your mom with many and I appreciate that and I am blessed to call you my sisters and brother.  Jean was and will continue to be a pillar in this community. 

The position of Grant Writer/Planner was Jean’s doing.  She had this knack of knowing just where you fit in and what you would be good at ….. even if you didn’t.  I had no plans to apply for the position and when Jean told me that I would be good at it, you have worked here long enough and you know the programs, you know what SCCAP is about and she was confident that I could do it I accepted with one stipulation…if after 3 months if I didn’t like it, I could go back to the accounting job…..she knew and she was right.  I enjoyed the job and held it until I retired.

When you worked at SCCAP it was like a second family.  Jean’s door was always open to talk, to ask a question, to cry, to just sit for a bit and breathe.  She was there for me when I had my two miscarriages, she was there when I had my two sons, she was there for me when I lost my brother, she was there for me when my mom became sick and when I needed to be off with my mom to care for her until she passed away. 

Jean told me not to worry, to take all the time I needed, my job would be there when I came back….who does that?  I know of one,  Jean.

Today, we recognize and honor a fabulous, loving, kind and caring woman.  She became my mentor, my friend, and my adopted mom.  She taught me the importance of caring for others.  SCCAP was like a second family to me and too many others. We all knew that when it was our birthday we could count on Jean to come around to sing to us in our office.  When she retired, I had the pleasure of having her sing happy birthday to me on my birthday for many years.  She would call on the phone and I would hear that voice, that voice that made me smile.

On one of my last outings with Jean we decided we would meet at Perkins for breakfast.  We arrived had breakfast and of course coffee, breakfast turned in to lunch and more coffee and then lunch turned in to dinner and more coffee.  They kept the pots of coffee coming for us.  When we left it was getting dark.  She was just that easy to talk to. 

In closing, we will all miss Jean; however as my granddaughter, Ava, who is only 4-½ years old said to me on the way to preschool this past Monday, it’s okay Cici, she will be looking down at you from heaven just like my Grammy does for me.  Out of the mouth of babes.  We can certainly learn a lot from the littles.  What a powerful statement for only being 4-1/2.

If you ever want to know more stories about Jean please feel free to call me, we can go to Perkins for breakfast…be sure to block out the entire day.

And yes, I know Jean, you are looking down and saying girl, I knew you could do it.

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