While many families hunkered down in their homes as the torrential downpours of Hurricane Harvey steered their way toward Houston, Linda Giles-Terrell prepared to go to work.
“It’s just part of the job,” said Giles-Terrell, a senior 911 telecommunicator for the city’s Houston Emergency Center, who also worked through Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Ike.
“We don’t leave the job until everything is over,” said Giles-Terrell who worked 12-hour shifts while Harvey waters flooded hundreds of homes leaving some families trapped inside.
“You stay on the line with them and let them know were sending someone out,” she said of the calls she answered during the most catastrophic flooding event of Houston.
Despite the panic of residents who called in, Giles-Terrell remained calm.
“I have to stay calm and get them calm and try to help them,” she said.
Giles-Terrell’s dedication to helping residents is a valuable quality that also shines through in her volunteerism.
“It means a lot, because it’s to help the people,” said Giles-Terrell who has volunteered at Refuge Temple Ministries for the past 30 years. Her service to the community both on-the-job and through her volunteerism earned her a 2018 Bravo Award, which recognizes city employees who go above and beyond in their service.
"Ms. Linda Giles-Terrell is not afraid to lead by example in giving and serving others,” said Sharon Brown-Pipkin, a senior supervisor for HEC. “This is what makes her such an asset to our team, her unselfish way of giving her all to those in need which extends to citizens, coworkers, and those in her community.”
Giles-Terrell’s passion for service comes from a desire to help others.
“I want to be there to help in any way that I can,” said Giles-Terrell, who leads the mature women’s Bible study group at her church.
“I’ve been in ministry for a long time and I wanted to help women through experiences I’ve had in my life,” she said.
Giles-Terrell also serves as an usher, follows up with church visitors every Tuesday, and volunteers with the broadcast team during live social media streams.
“I pray with them and answer prayer requests,” said Giles, who also taught adult Bible study for two years, served on the church choir for 10 years, and volunteers with Highways and Hedges, an on-the-road ministry.
“Ms. Linda's giving nature is an inspiration to us all,” Brown-Pipkin said.
Giles-Terrell sees her service as a way to connect with people both in her volunteerism and role for the city. In her 28 years of service to the city, she has helped numerous residents administer life-saving procedures to people in distress and aided in the delivery of several child births.
“Their lives depend on how fast I can get and give information so I can get help going,”she said. “We are the first contact.”
Giles-Terrell believes a higher power guides her on the job and it’s all about treating people like family.
“I know how I would want my family to be treated during an emergency,” she said. “I try to treat other family members the way I want my family treated.”