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Porch & Parish

Here Comes the Life of the Party!

Feb 22, 2024 11:53AM ● By Jen Gennaro

Jerry Evans has never met a stranger. The social butterfly belongs to about six different social groups that meet regularly, from pickleball to Portfolio Book Club, Chit Chat & Cocktails to Canasta, and many consider her to be the tie that bonds the group together. And if there’s live music anywhere, from Teddy’s Juke Joint to Downtown Live at the Gazebo, you can bet she’ll be up there dancing and singing along. 

With a knack for bringing people together and making newcomers feel welcome, Jerry effortlessly weaves connections that turn acquaintances into friends. And she does it by asking all the right questions. 

Jerry’s favorite hobby is reading – memoirs, specifically. Which makes sense when given her inquisitive approach to making friends: “I love people’s stories,” she says. “Where did you move here from? What was your childhood like? How did you meet your spouse?” These are the questions that get people talking about themselves, she says, and she genuinely loves to know. 

The answers are often surprising. Jerry has befriended Ms. Elizabeth David in the past year, an 89-year-old widow in Zachary who grew up in Yugoslavia and Austria, running from Hitler during the Holocaust. “She has just wrapped her arms around my mom and included her in everything…not to mention picking her up one night around 8 p.m. to go get ice cream and just listen to her stories,” says Debbie Guilbeau, Elizabeth’s daughter, adding that Jerry’s friendship is such a blessing to both of them. 

Maintaining meaningful connections is essential for Jerry, who actively checks on others and emphasizes the importance of overcoming loneliness. There’s no telling how many groups, both informal and official, she’s belonged to in her nearly 40 years of living in Zachary. She recalls being told by a then-councilman on her and her husband’s exploratory trip to Zachary in the ‘80s – “There’s something for you if you put yourself out there.”

When asked what advice she would give to people that are new in town and want to meet people, Jerry said, " You just have to put yourself out there and not be so bashful!"