ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s the end of an era for a St. Pete woman who has devoted her life to helping those less fortunate. For the past 21 years, Jane Walker has been the Executive Director of Daystar Life Center.
When Walker greets a client she doesn’t just ask what they need, but how they’re doing.
“I would absolutely call it a calling, I was led to it when I was in sixth grade at Lakewood Elementary,” said Walker.
Walker has been instrumental in taking Daystar Life Center from a 1,800-square-foot office to its new 10,000-square-foot center on 28th Street.
“Very much of a struggling neighborhood, that’s a medical desert, it's a food desert, a banking desert all of the things that most of us take for granted,” said Waker.
She feels the struggles personally, these clients are like family.
"I knew the area because I grew up in it and I watched the highway come through and displace people,” said Walker. “Some of them I’ve known since they were kids, we were kids together.”
The center served 52,000 people in 2021, providing everything from food and clothing to medical care and more.
“We can’t solve everything but we can do our best to at least try to work on it and get people where we can and advocate for them,” said Walker.
Walker credits much of Daystar’s success to the hundreds of volunteers who give their time and dedication every day. It’s because they believe in her mission.
“She’s inspirational, she is, she really is to spend 21 years, this is all Jane, this is all Jane,” said one volunteer.
Some of these volunteers were once clients themselves.
“I'm definitely going to miss her, I’m sad to see her go because she has been with me through thick and thin,” said another volunteer.
Walker’s years of service were even recognized by the city of St. Pete, which proclaimed April 23, 2022, as Jane Walker Day.
“It makes me know that I was in the right place at the right time,” said Walker.
She said just because she's retiring it doesn’t mean she is disappearing, she’ll always be a helping hand in the community.
“It’s that whole spirit of what more can I do,” said Walker.