Jefferson Awards: Brewer has passion for helping

Mar. 12—LIMA — Whether she's acting as Mrs. Claus, helping out at the Pork Rind Festival or giving you change at Lima Memorial Health System, you'll see a smile on Roberta Brewer's face.

It's because Brewer, one of the nine winners of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, genuinely enjoys helping.

"It's gratifying to you to be able to volunteer," Brewer said. "I don't expect payment. I'm a giving person. I like to give, and it comes back to you in ways."

Brewer's probably best known for helping out at the gift shop inside Lima Memorial Health System. It's there where she goes beyond just volunteering for a retail shift. She volunteered to handle scheduling and jumps in when someone else can't help.

"Roberta makes it a point to call each customer by name and personally get to know them," wrote Jessica Eutsler, her Jefferson Award nomination and volunteer coordinator at Lima Memorial. "She handles the routine ordering of snacks and beverages, as well as oversees the scheduling in our shop, ensuring that we always have coverage."

Brewer and the other winners will learn who will represent the region at the national Jefferson Awards during an event March 26 at Veterans Memorial Civic Center.

It's been a joyful retirement career for Brewer, who worked for 34 years in pathology at Lima Memorial. She started volunteering with the Lima Memorial Auxiliary Board when she was still working, making quilts that were raffled off.

That transitioned into helping work inside a cafe that was at LMHS. She now has 14 years of volunteerism at the hospital. She may help stock the shelves or ring up customers four days a week sometimes.

"It was fun, and just one day a week wasn't enough," Brewer said. "So I came into the gift shop. Now I do as many as I can."

In the gift shop, she has an easy rapport with families in the hospital who are looking for an oasis, as well as employees who come in to buy drinks, snacks or LMHS-logoed clothing. She jokingly called herself a "pusher" who likes to learn repeat customers' names.

"I think it means a lot to a person when you address them by name," Brewer said. "They're like, 'Wow, she remembered who I was.' So I do. I just like being with the people."

Her father, Everett Rader, used to volunteer his time playing Santa Claus around the region. Now, she steps in for Mrs. Claus at area events.

She also stepped up to help in Harrod, where she lives with her husband, fellow Jefferson Awards nominee Butch Brewer. She's active with the Auglaize Township Historical Society, including its programs, such as the Polar Express at Christmas, a daddy-daughter dance and a mother-son activity. She also helps raise money for the annual Pork Rind Festival in Harrod. She also helps cook a monthly community lunch for the Allen East community, where she enjoys meeting and talking with lonely senior citizens who attend.

"I'm always there helping set up, tear down, wherever they need me," she said. "I enjoy doing it. It keeps me busy. It keeps me off the streets."

She urges others to help out where they can, whether it's at the hospital or somewhere else.

"I encourage everybody to volunteer," she said, "no matter where. Schools need help, churches need help, the hospitals, service clubs, everyone needs help. I encourage them to volunteer. They won't regret it."


See more Jefferson Awards profiles between now and March 26 at

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.