North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

July 26, 2013

Community Champions: Cindy Doss takes no credit for helping others in need

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

PINSON — This NJN Community Champion profile appeared in our Progress 2013 edition.

Cindy Doss has helped countless people in her lifetime as a volunteer, but she’s the first to downplay her acts of kindness.

“I’ve never really done anything without the help of others,” she said. “If it weren’t for the goodness of my friends and family, I wouldn’t have done anything. I couldn’t do it singlehanded.”

Doss, who lives in Pinson, has organized volunteer efforts for 12 disasters, including the April 27, 2011, tornadoes that ravaged this part of the country; the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., the following month; flooding in North Carolina and Louisiana; Hurricane Sandy in the northeast; and the tornado that struck in the Center Point, Clay and Chalkville area last year.

She worked and took other volunteers to many of the sites; for others, she collected and sent materials.

Closer to home, Doss for several years fed 20 senior citizens in her neighborhood once a week. She would shop on Tuesday nights and prepare the meals for Wednesday, sometimes borrowing a neighbor’s oven if she needed an extra.

“I would spread the rumors and gossip for everybody,” she said with a laugh. “That was one of the biggest blessings I ever had. They gave me so much knowledge and humor.”

She had to stop that project when she started a new business, but then she used her spare time to teach a man to read.

She has also rescued countless dogs. “Everybody I know has a dog I found somewhere,” she said.

It is for these efforts that individuals nominated Doss as one of this year’s North Jefferson News Community Champions.

Doss “tirelessly serves others always,” wrote one person who nominated her.

Doss, who is 56, graduated from Mortimer Jordan in 1975. She has lived in Pinson 14 years, and grew up in Bradford.

For several years, Doss owned and operated a janitorial company. Five years ago, she started another business, C Doss Industries, which installs granite countertops.

Doss said many people choose not to volunteer because they think they have nothing to contribute. But she said it is not as difficult as some people think.

“Just jump in and do it,” she said. “Most people think they don’t have that gene in them. But force yourself one time and you won’t be able to stop.”

She said disasters “keep pulling me back in. ... I don’t think people understand what it feels like. I’ve had people give me a hug when you hand them something. People are grateful. If that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will. You catch fire and want to do more.”

Doss has, however, learned to pace herself after suffering stress-related health issues from going without sleep and food for many days while working at disaster sites.

But that does not stop her from giving back.

“I’m by no means different from anybody else. You just do what you can do,” she said. “Don’t be disappointed by what you can’t accomplish. You’ve got to run with what you’ve got.”