COMMUNITY GEM: Clayton woman shares talents to improve lives of others

Everyone has something to offer, Benette Waugh DeCoux has learned

Benette Waugh DeCoux has spread her time and talents among many worthy causes throughout the years. But she always has one goal in mind: To improve the lives of others.

“You just hear a story and know there’s some unmet needs,” she said.

Much of her efforts have concentrated on helping children in a variety of ways, both through her profession and in her volunteer work. She was once a school social worker and then a Head Start director before retiring as an administrator for Dayton Public Schools. She also spent 17 years as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate for children and is a member of Twentig, Inc., a small sisterhood of community-minded members that supports other nonprofit organizations.

Growing up in Columbus, her mother was a teacher and her father worked with youth. She learned that everyone has something to offer.

“It’s just a way of sharing talents and resources and giving back to the community,” DeCoux said.

Her parents’ belief in the strength of historically Black colleges and universities was passed down to DeCoux and her sister, who both graduated from Central State University. She moved to Dayton not long after earning a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Kent State University and has been in the Miami Valley ever since.

She has been a member of Wayman Chapel AME Church in Dayton for just as long, where she is now president of the Wayman Civic Association. Through the group, she encourages voter registration, advocates for voter rights and does good deeds for members of the congregation and the community.

She also has started a scholarship fund in her mother’s name – “She had the same kind of spirit,” DeCoux said – and founded a nonprofit organization five years ago. Born to Serve donates funds to special causes and projects.

“There’s so many needs, it’s just a drop in the bucket,” she said.

In addition, DeCoux is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, which has a focus on social justice, and she is even a member of the homeowners’ association where she lives in Clayton.

Anna McGuire-Davis has known DeCoux for more than 50 years, since they were in college together at Central State. Now they are neighbors, too.

“She has the heart of a servant, said McGuire-Davis, who nominated her friend as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

DeCoux at times sacrifices her own well-being in the service of others, and she is dedicated to helping youth, her church and “people she meets along the way,” McGuire-Davis said.

Christianity doesn’t mean simply attending church on Sundays for her friend – it is reflected in her actions throughout the community. She has been known to deliver vegetables to someone in need, check in and assist a friend in a nursing home, and help others get the services they need. And beyond her community involvement, DeCoux also makes time for her friends, regularly sending thinking-of-you notes and cards.

“She has so much energy,” McGuire-Davis said. “She has this strong, strong passion to give back.”

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