Dowdell distributes gift bags to elderly patients

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

“I like making people happy. It’s uplifting for me if I can lift the spirits of another person that I may come in contact with during the day,” Rosia Sawyer Dowdell said.

The Alabaster native spends her time engaged in what she has termed “people ministry.” The heart of Just Because (the official name of her endeavor), is the distribution of gift bags. She carries a ready supply of the bags containing toiletries such as lotion, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and brush, tissues, footies, literature, an ink pen and a greeting card in her vehicle at all times.

There are no criteria for who should receive a gift bag. She presents the gift bags to individuals as she is “led by God,” she said.

Dowdell is a familiar presence at Shelby Ridge and Ahava Health Care in Alabaster.

She goes bearing brightly colored balloons and her gift bags, and spends time in patients’ rooms conversing about different topics, giving words of encouragement and lots of smiles. For more than 15 years, she volunteered at the Briarcliff Nursing Home. She would provide magazines for the residents to read, and give them personal one-on-one attention by doing activities such as brushing a patient’s hair.

Dowdell has also volunteered with SafeHouse, an organization that offers free and confidential services for victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

A member of Emmanuel Temple Holiness Church in Alabaster since she was 18 years old, Dowdell is the president of the Usher Board, sings in the choir and is responsible for creating the church bulletin.

She has a unique ability to make placemats. It has become her official task to create a placemat displaying the family name that is used on the dining table during the repass after a funeral service.

“I help out wherever I can,” Dowdell said.

Dowdell graduated from Prentice High School in 1963, trained as a nurse’s aide and was employed as a private Personal Care Attendant.

Dowdell retired after 15 years of service to the city of Alabaster.

She began serving as an administrative clerk in the Parks and Recreation Department in 2004, and eventually transitioned to administrative clerk at the Alabaster Senior Center.

Dowdell and her husband, Bobby, have two sons and one daughter, along with seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.