By Alison James
Associate Editor

One Achievement Center – Easter Seals employee has dedicated 38 years to the work there – years of service that culminated in her retirement at the end of April.

Rhonda Spivey came to the Achievement Center in 1976 after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in business.

“I couldn’t find a job anywhere; unemployment rates were really high at that time, and I didn’t have any experience – just a college degree,” Spivey said. “The work center was just really getting started at that point … and (administrator Lamar Odom) hired me as the bookkeeper for the work center.”

After five years the current work center manager moved away.

“So Mr. Odom asked me if I wanted the job,” Spivey said. “At first I didn’t think I could do it, really. It was such a big job, and I had never managed anything. But he said, ‘I’m here to help you.’ Together we made it work.”

Spivey worked in that position for the rest of her career, with responsibilities that ranged from hiring to product delivery to “whatever needed doing.” She said she was “never bored” – and it was a job she loved.

“I believe everybody deserves a chance,” Spivey said. “I found out you don’t ever know what a person can do until you give them a chance. Mr. Odom gave me a chance when nobody else would, and I felt like I should repay that.”

Achievement Center Director Furrell Bailey said Spivey stands out as a compassionate person.

“She goes way beyond what her job description is,” Bailey said. “She’s just an all-around good lady. She’s probably one reason these walls are still standing. That’s a long time and a lot of experience walking out the door.”

Star Wray, director of vocational and industrial programs, who will take over portions of Spivey’s job, has been working with Spivey for the past eight years.

“It’s going to be odd walking out in the work center and not seeing here there,” Wray said. “All the work center employees like her – all the staff likes her.”

As for Spivey, she said the Achievement Center has been a “blessing in my life,” and a place she never imagined she would have stayed as long as she did.

“I really just wanted to get some experience,” Spivey said. “I did not know what I wanted to do. But as time went on, I realized this is what I was put here to do. I believe God has a reason for everybody being here. This was my reason.”