Of the many faces and names that make the Teche area unique, Donald “Doc” Voorhies is one that leaves a lasting impression. His impact on the community can be felt through his teaching, philanthropy, acting and mentoring. His faith and consistency towards fulfilling his calling are evident when asked about his motivation towards helping his community.
Question: “Which community involvement or project do you love the most?”
Answer: “By far teaching is the most important, the most gratifying because it’s what God made me for and he went through a lot of trouble to tell me.” said Voorhies.
“Doc” as he is called by many, explained that his teaching career started while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Across the street from his student union was a small girls Catholic school.
”So a teacher got pregnant and they needed a substitute for about six weeks, and one of my friends said why don’t you do it, but I said I can’t, I stutter,” Voorhies said.
That persistent friend finally convinced the doctorate student of education psychology that he should try classroom teaching. It was a decision he has never come to regret.
“I walked into the algebra II class and within 30 secs I know it was what I was meant to do.”
Despite what he refers to as his fancy degree,”Doc” has been a classroom teacher for 40 years. Its grown into a love for people and community that he loves to share.
Q: “How did you evolve into having so many titles?”
A: Well the acting was another funny thing. Even though I could teach classes I still worried about stuttering.” “Doc” said. A friend who was directing “Fiddler On The Roof” at Iberia Performing Arts League convinced Voorhies that if he could teach for what was then 25 years then he could act. “I thought about it and said, you know that’s true,” The feeling he received after delivering his first line was like dejavu. “That first line and I was hooked,” said “Doc”. He’s gone on to star in, write and direct several performances.
Q: “What attracts you to philanthropy?”
A: “First of all philanthropy is not just giving money, you can give time.” Voorhies said.
“I spend a lot of time at IPAL, I stopped on my way to school this morning and emptied the trash cans, that’s philanthropy.” he said. Voorhies noted that while he has been blessed to make financial contributions to several local projects,(one being the Bayou Teche Museum which now has a wing named after him) he feels everyone can be a philanthropist. “Everything we have has been given to us by God or our parents, since it was all a gift as much as possible we are obligated to give back,” said Voorhies.
Voorhies feels raising children is one of the greatest philanthropic gifts that exists.
“Parents who keep students involved in things like basketball and dance can become inspired to pursue other volunteer opportunities that enhance the overall person (such as coaching).” Voorhies said.
“The true joy in my life and I think this is a universal principle is getting outside of yourself and helping others.” said Voorhies. “God is first, others are second, and you are third. I think that gets reversed. People put themselves first, others second, and God is at the bottom of the list,” he said.