Under the Friday night lights of Memorial Stadium as the Knights prepare for battle, a special member of the Episcopal community links arms with the captains and approaches midfield. It’s the Homecoming game, with all the fanfare such an occasion warrants, and Tasha Lemon has been selected by the athletes to serve as their honorary team captain.
Tasha has been a part of the Episcopal community for 10 years. Initially hired part time, she never imagined that someday she would be taking the field or watching little Knights grow up right before her eyes. However, her tremendous work ethic immediately impressed Episcopal administrators, and in no time she was hired permanently. Now, after a decade of service she’s found more than she ever imagined.
A New Beginning
It takes someone with faith, strength and resilience to be open to possibilities, to find the hidden guideposts along the way and to brave a different path. Tasha grew up in a small town in Cajun country. She is daddy’s girl and did whatever she could to spend time with her father. “He was my first true love,” she says. She learned to cook by watching him. “Every time he was in the kitchen, I was there.” She remembers learning the art of making the perfect fried chicken from him at nine years old. To this day she says there are dishes that can’t be replicated by anyone but her beloved dad. As she discusses those moments, it is clear how much they still mean to her and how much they have molded her into the woman she is today. Her father instilled her with an unwavering work ethic and the determination to do the right thing. This gave her the courage and vision to strike out on her own and create the life she desired.
After 13 years in Baton Rouge, Tasha has created an extended family. When she first arrived at Episcopal, people like Chef Pat and Mrs. Mary took her under their wing. “I’ve learned a lot of things here from them,” she says. “They made me who I am today.” Tasha’s extended family also includes the students she serves every day. “I’m here for the kids,” she says with a grin. As she serves the 900+ students each day, she gets to know them. Even though the cafeteria can be a bustling place, she always seems to have time to share a warm hello and that infectious smile.
The Real Deal
“When I think of Tasha all I can think of is her love,” says Chef Pat. “She loves her family, she loves working and most of all she loves the children at Episcopal. She is the real deal. A big smile to match her big heart. And hands down the hardest working person on campus.”
Long before the first student arrives on campus, Tasha is here. Arriving at 6 am she begins preparing the cafeteria for the day. After serving students in the cafeteria, she finishes her day overseeing the Episcopal athletics concession stand as the Knights take on their latest opponent. Tasha has managed the concession stand for five years now, and while the hours may be tiring for some, she enjoys every bit of it. “When you love your job, it comes natural,” she says. And it does come naturally for Tasha. She knows the players, their families and many of the Knights fans. In fact, she has made such an impact on the community that the concession stand is being named in her honor. The Chauvin family chose to honor her in this way because of her connection to their son David. With all of the students and visitors who visit the stand, Tasha always knows just what little David wants and has it ready for him when he stops by. Caring for others is simply what Tasha does and her new beginning has allowed her to express that in meaningful ways.
With strength comes gratitude and the ability to recognize those blessings in unexpected places. “I thank God to be here,” says Tasha. “I’m grateful every morning for a new 24.” When she first joined the Episcopal family all those years ago, she never imagined that one day she would be a blessing to so many. She couldn’t imagine that she would one day be on the field with athletes or that the concession stand would bear her name. She remembers athletic director Randy Richard telling her that the work she does here never goes unnoticed. That sentiment means a lot. “It’s a warm feeling of joy,” she says. “I truly say I’m blessed.”
People like Tasha make the Episcopal community special. She has the heart of a champion and the strength of a Knight. Thank you for sharing your joy with us.
Do you have a special message for Tasha? Leave it in the comments section below.