“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” - Plato
That saying by the Greek philosopher is what Angel Howell keeps in mind as she performs her duties as an executive assistant in the office of Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young.
The 35-year-old sometimes fields calls that fall outside of her job description, but she takes the time to hear everyone out and make sure their problems are addressed. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff and uses her soft-spoken manner and helpful nature to make others feel at ease.
It is her ability to demonstrate a sympathetic consciousness of others with a desire to alleviate their stress that earned Howell the designation as the exemplification of compassion as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
Howell said she is just being herself, and was both surprised and honored by the recognition.
“I don’t see myself as being compassionate in an extraordinary way. I’m just being compassionate in an ordinary way. Everybody is fighting some type of battle, and it’s just about being understanding of that. I know I’m the type of person where I will forego my feelings to spare the feelings of others, sometimes to my own detriment,” she said, smiling.
Howell said she enjoys working with people and helping others throughout her day as an administrative assistant.
“We work on a lot of projects, so being able to be involved in a lot of the things that impact the everyday lives of the citizens is what I enjoy doing. I understand that everyone regardless of race, color, creed, sex, age or socioeconomic class has some kind of struggle. And when they call here, they’re looking for a solution,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s in your job description; they just want a solution. So you have to be able to be understanding of that and take the time to listen and hear them out,” she added. “Even though that person may be lashing out at you for whatever reason, it does neither of us any good to lash back and tell them how I feel.”
As the youngest of 10 children, Howell has had a lot of practice in listening.
“I’ve always been the sentimental one. If there was an issue going on with a sister or brother, I was the one trying to come up with a resolution even as a young person,” she said. “Even though I may not have had the resources, I was trying to pull the family together to try to find a solution to the problem.”
Howell said she has received calls from county residents about just about everything but she doesn’t mind.
“Some people think that we know everything in the county. We had a lady that called and she was helping someone to get a birth certificate. ... One of my co-workers was in the process of trying to get her birth certificate, so I asked her which website she went to and I gave the caller that information,” she said.
“She was so thankful because she said she had already called 12 different people and no one took the time to try to help her.”
The Dorchester County native is the daughter of Bunice Geddis and the late John Geddis. She lauded them for their role in her and her siblings’ character development.
“My dad died last year, but they instilled great values in us. They did not meddle in their children’s married life, and I love that about them. And when grown-ups were talking, kids were nowhere around. I really appreciate them for the way that they raised us,” Howell said.
She and her husband, Gerald, live in Vance with their two children, Zoey, 8, and Zion, 6, both of whom attend Marshall Elementary School in Orangeburg. She said she tries to show compassion in her personal life, along with instilling good values in her children.
“I call my daughter my alter ego. She’s going to tell you what’s on her mind and does not hold back. I’m trying to teach her self-control. My son, on the other hand, loves to make you laugh. I try to not stifle that trait in him because it’s a great gift, but I try to instill in him that it has to be used appropriately,” Howell said.
She praised the OCCOC for its work in promoting good character.
“I think it’s a very positive initiative that lets the community know the types of traits that are valued. I firmly believe that people can say a lot of things, but it’s your actions that really tell who you are,” Howell said. “I often say that my title as a mother and executive assistant describe what I do, but my character defines who I am as a person.”