Volunteering Behind The Scenes

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, December 4, 2011

     Editor’s note: Today, The DAILYLEADER continues a series of stories compiled by University ofMississippi journalism students during a field trip to LincolnCounty in late October. Today’s feature is on Jewel Dunaway, whovolunteers in a variety of ways at Bogue Chitto AttendanceCenter.

         Steaks for thesenior athletes. Lumber for the bleachers. Work on the new fieldhouse.


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     Jewel Dunaway has done somuch for Bogue Chitto High School that it’s hard to find somethinghe hasn’t done.

     Somehow, he finds time todo other things in addition to his school work. Dunaway enjoyssalt-water fishing and tending to his garden, but most of all heenjoys giving back to the community.

    Dunaway graduated from Bogue Chitto High School in 1966 beforebeginning his job as a manager of Sunbelt Forest Products in Pearl.Now retired at the age of 63, Dunaway has contributed 20 years ofhis time and money to the school district and hiscommunity. 

    His daughters didn’t go to Bogue Chitto, and the school did not askfor his help. He simply decided he needed to pitch in. Essentially,he showed up one day and started to work, making signs to advertisefor the baseball team and donating lumber for thebleachers. 

    Since then, many of Dunaway’s good deeds have become traditions atthe high school. Before every home basketball and football game, hehas loaded up his GMC truck with a barbecue grill to cook meat forthe football team, coaches and numerous fans. A nearby friend witha catering business has helped him provide food – boiled crawfish,shrimp, red beans.

      Over the years he hasprovided doors for locker rooms, donated meat and money for lunchduring out-of-town tournaments, worked on building the new fieldhouse, helped with many athletic banquets, and begun a newtradition for the senior athletes. For the past few years he hascooked a steak dinner for every senior athlete. Last year’s seniorsteak dinner gobbled up 50 steaks.

    “They’re not cheap steaks,” he said. “They’re rib-eyes.”

    Dunaway has not only helped the school but also what he calls the”close-knit community” of Bogue Chitto. When a local family with adamaged roof was in need of help, he supplied shingles so CoachMickey Myers and students could replace the roof. He evenapologized for not being able to stay and help put them on. Foryears Dunaway helped prepare a Christmas dinner for two elderlywidows. With one now deceased, Dunaway still continues the dinnerfor the other.

     “I enjoy helping people… Just look around. There is always a need,” he said. 

    Many busy people might find it difficult to give lots of their timeto help others. But Dunaway believes that anyone can prioritize hisor her time for someone in need. In fact, he can’t stand it when hesees someone in need, especially school kids. Helping out justseems the right and natural thing to do.

    “When you come to a ball game and see that a guy has a son outthere playing ball, and he is working the concession stand,…I’mgoing to go work for him so he can watch his child play ball.”

    Dunaway volunteers not for the satisfaction he feels, but for thechildren he tries to help succeed. When they are successful, hefeels a great sense of pride.

     It’s not that he’s proudof himself. He’s proud of “the school but also … the community,”said Dunaway.

    High school coaches Christie Terrell and Denise Leggett rememberhow Dunaway would never miss a home basketball or football gamewhen they first began coaching. With both in their eighth year ascoaches, they are amazed that even though Dunaway has struggledwith some health problems, he still continues to donate andcontribute greatly behind the scenes.

    Leggett recalls how Dunaway helped out with a huge fundraiser whenthe head football coach’s oldest son was diagnosed with leukemiaabout three years ago.

     Dunaway has helped so muchthat the school and its athletic program have come to depend onhim. When coaches talk about him, it’s easy to see that they don’tknow what they would do without him.

     “He’s just a blessing tohave in the community; there is no doubt he is a phone call away.”said Leggett.