Linda Dingle Gadson
Linda Dingle Gadson is an unusual person who is a master of all trades. She serves as Executive Director of the Rural Mission on Johns Island, where she is counselor, doctor, minister, teacher, lawyer and real estate agent for her spiritual values, caretaking skills and the importance of education. Gadson graduated from the College of Charleston with a major in political science and a minor in sociology. Although she was planning to to enter law school at the University of South Carolina in 1972, she got sidetracked by a part-time summer job coordinating one of the projects at the Rural Mission of Johns Island, Inc. Over thirty years later, she is still there. “The Rural Mission, Inc. fulfilled the need for me to help otherd,” Gadson explained. “The mission fosters, promotes and ministers to the spiritual, economic, social , educational, medical and housing needs of five Charleston County Sea Islands: Johns, James, Wadmalaw, Yonges and Edisto.” The Rural Mission, Inc. is an ecumenical, non-profit organization founded primarily to care for migrant farm workers and needy families. It is located in a small community on Johns Island and is supported primarily by a network of churches and congregations throughout the United States. The mission is constantly expanding services and projects. Gadson oversees the coordination of services and the operation of the facility. Serving more than 250 children, the Migrant Headstart Program is one project that cares for migrant farm children in four location. Migrant Headstart has helped to rescue children between six weeks to five years from the fields and to provide them with a healthy environment where learning is possible. “One of my greatest joys was seeing one of our students go to college and graduate from seminary,” Gadson said. “Seeing people improve their lives, become productive and independent, is my reward.” Some of the other projects that help make the residents independent are the Volunteer Workcamp Project, which repairs and renovates housing, and Crisis Assistance, which helps families buy food, find housing and pay utility bills. The Sunshine Store provides good used clothing that families can purchase with dignity. Also, the Rural Mission, Inc. provides assistance with job placement, dealing with government agencies and helping young people secure funds for education. “My grandmother always told me to put myself in someone else’s shoes,” Gadson said. “I have always reached out to help people, and God has always given me a road map to show me the way.” Gadson has two granddaughters, and her daughter, Telley L. Gadson serves as minister of the St. Mark United Methodist Church in Sumter.