Community gratitude overwhelms Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner

GR8 Acts of Kindness: Jake Gilley
Jake Gilley hugs Joanne Gamble. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Jake Gilley hugs Joanne Gamble. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Church members, friends and family packed the room to surprise Jake Gilley. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Church members, friends and family packed the room to surprise Jake Gilley. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Jake Gilley surrounded by his family. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Jake Gilley surrounded by his family. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Jake Gilley prays with nursing home residents on a daily basis. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Jake Gilley prays with nursing home residents on a daily basis. (Source: KAIT-TV)

LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT) - Jake Gilley is an answer to a prayer, according to many people.

But June's Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner says the answer is prayer.

He will pray with you--no matter where you are and who you are. But, he'll be the first to say that he's not worthy of recognition or praise.

When we arrived in Lake City, it seemed as if the whole town knew.

"He's a good man," Joanne Gamble, whispered in the crowd.

She spoke with tears in her eyes about the man who was about to surprised with the Gr8 Acts of Kindness at the Lakeside Nursing Center.

A long line of people gathered. So many, the line snaked its way down the hallway. His daughter, Faith, led me to a room where a man was standing behind a pulpit with several friends gathered around him.

"Jake Gilley, I was told that I could find you here today!" I said.

His eyes widen in amazement at the steady stream of people pouring into the room.

"You got to be kidding me!" Gilley said in shock.

"We've received so many letters about how you give to others," I tell him. "The first nomination said, 'Godly, Christian man is who Jake Gilley is.'" The crowd says, "AMEN" in unison.

Townspeople, church members, family, and friends fill the room.

"He took this picture one day," Gamble says pointing to a picture of Gilley and her father, Howard Covington. Gamble recently lost her father.

"From the time, Daddy came to this nursing home, Jake Gilley was like a constant," Gamble explained. "He was here and he would stay as long as Daddy wanted to talk."

"And then he got worse," Jake Gilley said. "He had to go to the Hospice House."

"Jake came by every day," Gamble said. "He would just kneel by his bed and pray for him."

And then, Gilley spoke at Howard Covington's funeral.

"Our heavenly father...we thank you for this another day and we thank you for Lou," Gilley said with his head bowed in prayer.

Gilley makes it his mission to visit the sick.

"How are you doing?" Gilley asked as he walks into one of the many rooms at Lakeside Nursing Center.

"I'm doing as good as I can with what I got," Mrs. Wallace said.

He takes her hand and asks if he can pray with her.

His next stop is just down the hall.

"This is Brother Anderson. Pentecostal preacher, pastor," Gilley said.

"He's been a minister for 32 years and I just got acquainted with him a few years ago," Gilley said. "He's a very godly man and I think a lot of him."

"He is just the most giving and loving individual that I think that I've met," Lisa Lawrence, Medicare Manager for Lakeside Nursing Center said.

There's no job too big for Gilley. He mows the church lawn and has been known to help roof a home of someone in need.

"He feels like that is what God has told him to do," Lawrence said. "To be there for others. To pray for them. To uplift them. To give them a little glimpse of God."

We're back at the big surprise and so many people of all ages are waiting to see Gilley's face at this announcement.

He wipes away tears.

"Look at this. This is a testament to your life," I point to the ever-growing crowd gathering behind me in the room.

"Look at how many folks have come here today and they have surprised you," I said. "They have kept this all under wraps because they love you that much! You didn't receive one nomination for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness. You received many."

He counters between sobs.

"There's a lot more people that do more than I do," Gilley said.

"You have sat with people in their last hours of life and have been there when they needed it most," I said. "And that's why you are this month's Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner!"

The room erupts into applause.

Next up? The money.

I asked the crowd to join me in counting.

"One hundred. Two hundred. Three hundred. Four hundred," I said. "five, six, seven, eight. Four hundred eight dollars for being the latest Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner."

"It's people like you who make this a better place, Deania Vanhoozer, Vice-President, Community Relations Officer for First Community Bank said. "Thank you and thank you for all you do."

Kembralyn Redman joins Vanhoozer in presenting the check.

"I am really blessed," Gilley said as he wiped tears. "I just feel like it's my job that God has given me to do and I will try to do it. For me, the visiting is the best part."

"Bless you Ms. Wallace," Gilley said as he patted her hand. "I'll be back to see you."

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