When she was 10-years-old, Sharon Reese began accompanying her maternal grandmother to the homes of people who were sick. Her grandmother, a trained midwife, would help to care for the sick however she could.
“She would always say ‘let's go help them’,” said Reese, an environmental investigator for the Houston Health Department.
Reese said she also attended church regularly with her paternal grandmother and would help her hand out vegetables she grew in her garden to church members in need.
“She's the one that taught me how to pray,” she said.
It was through these experiences Reese said she learned what it meant to give back.
“Both of my grandmothers showed me how to love and give,” Reese said.
Reese said the sense of service she learned early in life is what drew her to volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, which helps the community through its food bank and bill payment assistance programs.
“I love people,” Reese said. “And serving people just gave me that deep love to continue to serve and continue to do because there's so many people that need that today.”
And she said that her volunteerism with St. Vincent de Paul led her to volunteer the St. Legion of Mary, a catholic volunteer association that provides prayer for the homebound and sick.
Reese, who has volunteered with the association for 24 years, prays with the sick and homebound, provides Holy Communion, and served as the president for eight years.
“If you have that listening ear, you sit there and you listen to them,” she said. “That's serving even when you're just listening to them.”
Reese’s service to the community and the city earned her a Bravo Award in July.
“It was a total fulfillment for me because a lot of homeless and homebound people they're unable to go anywhere,” Reese said.
At least twice a week after working a full day, Reese said she would attend church and then set out to visit the sick and the homebound.
“And what gave me so much energy, no matter how tired I was, is they would be sitting at the door waiting for me,” she said.
When the pandemic locked down much of the country, Reese checked in on those she served through weekly phone calls and has continued to do so throughout the pandemic.
Along with prayer, Reese said she tries to educate them about COVID-19.
“I try to protect them and tell them what they need to do and pray with them because they are really still lonely,” she said.
“That's why I love my job at the city because we are continuing to help people within the city, whatever they need, you can try to help them.” .
Reese, who joined HHD in 2005, oversees restaurants’ and businesses’ compliance with city regulations and residents’ compliance with sewage overflow.
Early on, Reese found herself in the field not only helping with residential sewage problems, but also helping to connect elderly low-income residents with social services.
A call about a sewage overflow ended with a call to adult social services when Reese said she realized the elderly resident who called suffered from mental health issues and was living in unhealthy conditions.
“The one thing we can do is refer to different agencies to help them out,” she said. “If we see that as a problem, we can refer them, you know, find some type of help.”
Now a supervisor, Reese said her employees often tell her about how they help elderly residents with underlying issues when they are out in the field. It’s a familiar scenario for Reese who has spent more than two decades in service to her community and the city.
“It just gives me a great thrill to be able to help people,” she said. “And if you have that inside of you, you're going to have a force in you that nobody can stop.”
“It just makes you give yourself more and more and more,” Reese said.