Betty Stone has traveled to all seven continents, but always manages to find her way back to Orangeburg.
She knows there are needs to be taken care of and fills in where she can as part of what she calls a "fundamental human spirit" of giving.
Whether refurbishing homes in West Virginia's Appalachian Region as part of Habitat for Humanity, a Christian housing ministry; teaching conversational English in Poland as part of the Global Volunteers international service program, or providing humanitarian aid in the western Sahara desert as part of Frie-ip Force International Inc., Stone has had her hand in giving.
She is a devoted volunteer for Edisto Habitat for Humanity, an Orangeburg-based nonprofit ministry that provides housing for low-income families. She serves on its board of directors and also volunteers at its Home Store, where donated and surplus building materials such as hardware, lumber and other items are sold to fund the ministry.
She also volunteers at Corporative Church Ministries, an outreach ministry serving Orangeburg County's needy with food, clothing and other necessities. She has already been tapped to become CCMO service coordinator next year for her church, St. Paul United Methodist Church.
It is Stone's liberality in giving that has earned her designation as the exemplification of generosity for the month of November as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
It was an honor which caught the active 78-year-old by surprise.
"I was surprised out of my shoes. It was certainly an honor, but it seems unjustified," said Stone, one of 11 children from a large farm family in Snellville. Ga. Her parents taught her the value of work, and she has always stayed active.
"If it can help someone else, then that's an OK thing. There have been many people at each point in my life," that helped her along life's journey, Stone said. She says she is paying them back, in a way, by helping others.
She said she hasn't thought of herself as generous, but is glad to be seen that way.
"In the end you can't define it, but you recognize it when you see it. It's part of the fundamental human spirit that's activated or manifested in service to the people. It's ennobling. It does make us better people," said Stone, whose other passions include nature preservation.
"One of my current passions is Friends of the Edisto, the nonprofit group that's really interested in preserving the integrity of the Edisto River. I mostly just like to plug in where there's a need," said Stone, who instilled the trait of giving in her two children, Joe and Rebekah.
"That was one of the things that I kept uppermost in my mind. They both are contributing children," Stone said. Joe contributed his time as a baseball coach and is an active member of Columbia's Shandon United Methodist Church. Rebekah spends time working with the homeless and addiction sufferers, along with immigrants and refugees, Stone said.
After her husband John passed away, she knew just how she wanted to spend her time. She is now firmly implanted in working to make her community a better place.
"I knew I wanted to work with Habitat, and I also knew I wanted to travel. I'm very grateful. I think that I've been very lucky to have crammed so much into my 78 years," Stone said. "I fully expect to live beyond 100 whether I want to or not."