Sadie Jarvis is not given to self-aggrandizement or boasting about what she's done in her life as a counselor, mentor and teacher.
Whether she is assisting students at Claflin University or participating in community outreach projects as part of the many organizations she is involved with, Jarvis is all about helping others to be the best they can be.
She credits God for allowing her to be able to work as long as she has and takes pride in seeing students and others around her become good, productive citizens.
Her penchant for working without seeking recognition, but for the greater good, has earned her designation as the exemplification of humility as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
It was an honor that took Jarvis was not expecting.
"I was very happy to receive the honor, but I was really surprised. I had no inkling that I was going to be chosen, but it's a good feeling," Jarvis said.
Jarvis retired from Orangeburg School District 5, where she worked as an English teacher, supervisor of continuing education and director of counseling.
She has served as director of counseling, student development and services at Claflin University for the past 21 years.
She said she feels humbled to be able to continue to help students.
"It's the love I have for others, the love of helping. I just enjoy helping. I think that's where I get my therapy, or my satisfaction -- by making certain that I try to help them help themselves," Jarvis said.
"You don't want students to come to the point where they just live for today. They have to realize that they have to live a long time afterward. And then you want to teach them to help others.
"Here at Claflin we stress service learning and community service, and students see how it helps that they can feel good when they help others. I've even noticed how they feel good about helping even the animals when they go to the animal shelter."
Jarvis planned to go into private counseling following her retirement from the school district, but accepted the job at Claflin.
She has since grown attached to students and helping them reach their own goals in life.
"I always put people before me. ... I'm just very devoted to helping others, especially young people. I really think that is my gift from God, and I do my very best to make sure I do all I can to guide them in the right way," Jarvis said.
"It's a good feeling, and you become very honored and humbled with being able to work with young people and see their growth," she said.
Her job, however, does not involve pampering.
"I let them know the consequences if they don't do what they need to do. It is easy to enable a young person, but you’ve got to let them know the consequences. ... That's what I try to do when it comes to working with them," she said.
The Cordova native learned many lessons from her grandmother about character.
"My grandmother would always say, 'Treat others like you want them to treat you.' That has been instilled in me all my life. And she'd always say that just because you see a person and they may look happy or like they're OK, you really have to get to know that person," Jarvis said.
She added, "Just because a person smiles doesn't mean a thing. That young man or young lady could have such serious problems. You've got to get to know people and not decide that everyone is on the same level.
"I know helping others is my gift, and following through with the help. My grandmother used to always say, 'Try to do your best to help others because it's not all about you.'"
Not only did her grandmother influence her life, but other mentors as well.
"I remember growing up in Cordova, South Carolina. There were persons from the church who were so helpful. They mentored me and kept saying, 'Sadie, you must go on to college. I'm going to do my best to help you because I know you have the ability.'
"I was always a serious person, but still grateful. Even from eight years old and as I grew up, I think I always had two or three people who mentored me, or who I looked to as mentors.”
She still has mentors and never stops learning about herself and others.
"I still have people that I consult, but my greatest mentor is God. I really believe in God, and I think he has been able to help me see what life is all about. Because of my health and being able to do, I feel I just need to help others," Jarvis said.
"You're humbled because others depend on you, or need your support. I think if you're experienced or knowledgeable enough, or have the character enough to help others, you should give it your all," she added.
Jarvis is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Orangeburg, where she serves as an usher and as a member of United Methodist Women and the nomination and education committees. She is also chairperson of the Orangeburg Area Mental Health Center board.
Her other affiliations include her membership in The Links Inc., the Orangeburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the Sunlight Club.
Jarvis said she is pleased with the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative and its efforts to spread good character within the community.
"Character is the framework of life. It means so much. Whatever we do should depend on good character. If we continue to spread that throughout the Orangeburg community, the state of South Carolina and the world, life would be different," she said.