Small efforts contribute to the greater good: Acadiana's Annie Spell is committed to service (2024)

  • BY LAUREN CHERAMIE | Staff writer

    Lauren Cheramie

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Annie Wingate Spell, a native of Lafayette, has a long history of service to others alongside the pursuit of excellence. Spell previously owned and directed a psychological services clinic in Lafayette following her studies at UL and LSU, serving child and adolescent patients with consistent provision of pro bono services for children within state custody as well as children whose families had experienced financial crisis.

In 2013, she closed her private practice due to an unexpected diagnosis of stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma, later becoming cancer free. This experience opened new opportunities for Spell to help children and families in other ways, and her philanthropic and volunteer work within the Lafayette area and beyond is notable.

As a self-proclaimed "serial board member," Spell has been involved with several nonprofit organizations, including Lafayette Area’s American Cancer Society Executive Leadership Committee, the Miles Perret Cancer Center, Autism Society of Acadiana, Lafayette General Foundation Family Circle, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Children’s Museum of Acadiana, United Way of Acadiana and many more.

Beyond her volunteer and professional work, Spell has been integral to the direction and focus of the Tides Medical Foundation alongside her husband, Joe Spell, who co-founded Tides Medical, a biotech company in Lafayette.

Small efforts contribute to the greater good: Acadiana's Annie Spell is committed to service (5)

As you have your hand in so many organizations, how do you see small actions as leading to bigger change?

I see my work and my time spent supporting nonprofits as improving the quality of life of folks who live in Lafayette. Concurrent to that, as a growing biotech company, Tides Medical is constantly looking for talent both within the state and from outside of the state.

More so, we'd like to find talent within the state. So, we'd like to offer what we can to make Lafayette a desirable place to come back to or to stay.

The array of projects that I work on— it could be a resource manual for families that are new to the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or it could be directing a new exhibit install at the Children's Museum— are very disconnected within the content and the focus. But, at the end of the day, the goal is to improve the quality of life for people around us and maintain Lafayette as a beautiful place to be, a place of generous people.

I do believe it is the small efforts of any individual that contribute to the greater good of the whole advancement of community and collaboration.

In Acadiana, what does community mean to you?

The folks here in Lafayette have a very unique awareness of each other's needs. I would hope that, as we've grown, we're able to maintain that awareness of the needs of others around us.

That is something that I put myself in the moment of often with my work with nonprofits, but it's something that any resident of Lafayette can access. I do believe that we have a unique culture that offers that inclination of awareness of others.

Do you think that the combination of your cancer diagnosis and your career as a psychologist was a catalyst to the nonprofit work you're doing now?

When I was practicing full time, I saw patients as individuals. I value and love my work. During treatment, I had a 6-month old son, and my husband's company was growing, so it was going to be a difficult passage for me to maintain that practice.

With moving into remission and becoming cancer free, my lens of "time is now" came ever more to the forefront.

Sometimes I think I'm a horse out of the gate— as in, what can I do next? What's the next thing? Bettering your community also betters yourself, your children's lives and your neighbors' lives.

Obviously, no one plans to get sick. No one plans to get diagnosed with cancer. It was very much outside of my comfort zone. Moving into these different areas of community collaboration was outside of my comfort zone.

But sometimes I think, "If not now, when?"

That's the carry-over of my diagnosis.

How has your education at Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau impacted your life?

As a graduate of Sacred Heart, any person who attends that school becomes well aware of the five goals of a Sacred Heart education. They're all very significant goals for one's development.

The one that stood out for me the most was a call to social justice. It's a matter of looking around yourself and seeing what the needs are. It's that call that they so well instilled in us that very much affected how I look at what I'm doing for those around me and what I'm doing for my community.

If someone was interested in volunteering in Acadiana, what is the first step he or she should take?

First, look around the community you're in, whether it's the workplace, school, church or a book club. Then, there is a great resource, our Community Foundation of Acadiana, which is well-versed in the nonprofit world.

Catholic Charities of Acadiana is now the umbrella for many nonprofits also, and they can connect people with various areas of service and support that is needed within our community.

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Lauren Cheramie

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Small efforts contribute to the greater good: Acadiana's Annie Spell is committed to service (2024)


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