Q&A: Debbie Stewart

Published 4:27 pm Thursday, August 5, 2010

Debbie Stewart of Greenville keeps busy between her job as a home health care worker for Amedisys, her volunteer work for Greenville High School and being mom to an active high school senior, daughter Hannah, along with Stewart’s 27-year-old son Todd. Stewart and Hannah were both winners in their division at the 2010 Miss Relay For Life Pageant. She and husband James have been married for 22 years.

I understand you do quite a bit to support the Greenville High School sports programs. Tell me more! Well, I cook breakfast for the prayer breakfasts held for the football team and the cheerleaders. I’ve also done it for the softball, baseball and basketball teams. I try to spread things around, but football is my heart. I love football. And I like to help. It’s just who I am and what I do.

What’s the teams’ favorite breakfast dish that you cook? Oh, my grits (smiles). I add a lot of stuff to mine. Velvetta cheese, Ro-Tel tomatoes . . . that’s what they want.

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Any other student favorites? (Laughs) Well, (GHS) Coach Ben Blackmon calls me “The Honey Bun Lady” because I make a lot of honey bun pound cakes for the players. I found the right baking pans and now I make individual ones for them. I made some homemade ice cream the other day and took to the coaches . . . I cook the custard first and then freeze it. Coach Blackmon said it was the best he’d ever tasted!

You clearly love cooking. What does your family enjoy the most that you prepare? I was in a family of six children, so when we get together, I fix a lot of things, something everyone likes. Lemon pies, red velvet cake, cheesecake, candies. But my sister Frankie Gaston, she can out cook me!

With Hannah a student and a cheerleader at GHS, you’re a major Greenville High School fan these days, but did you grow up here? No, I actually grew up in Georgiana and graduated from Georgiana High School. I was a cheerleader for four years there. I just loved it. And now Hannah is a cheerleader, too.

Was it your cheerleading days that made you such a football fan? Not really. I had brothers who played and we’d go to see them and I just grew up with it. When you know the players personally, it makes it a whole different thing, you know?

Any particular memories or certain cheers that stand out from your days on the Panther squad? We used to have this one cheer we did not like. At pep rallies our sponsor would give us this signal to do “Take Strategy.” Well, we’d all look the other way and pretend we didn’t see her. We still laugh about that today when we see each other!

Any other favorite teams? Well, I don’t look good in blue and orange. I look much better in red and white. I do love the Alabama Crimson Tide. But I am going to be cheering on “Big C” (Kenneth Carter, former GHS football standout) at Auburn this year.

You work in a very people-oriented profession. Tell me more. I’ve been in home health for 24 years and at the nursing home for eight years before that. I work with Amedysis and mostly visit patients in Lowndes County these days. You become very close and attached to them, to the ones who have family, but especially the ones that don’t have family around them. They mean a lot to you. They laugh, they cry, they pray with you, and you with them. And that’s how life is. You know, if I don’t go in with a smile on my face, they notice and ask me what’s wrong (pauses) You know, these are folks you just don’t ever forget.

Favorite song? “The Anchor Holds.” I could listen to our pastor at Christian Life Ministries, Stacey Gaston, sing that every Sunday. I’m very proud of him – he’s my nephew!

Favorite TV show? Oh, I love “Meet The Browns,” and “Make It or Break It,” about the gymnasts. And “The Secret Life of a Teenager.” I told Hannah, it really shows you what happens in real life when you do things you aren’t supposed to do.

– Interviewed by Angie Long

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