Inspiring Okeechobee: ‘You’re never fully dressed without a smile’

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Amy Cortez, pictured with daughter Alyssa and husband Jorge, is almost never seen without a smile on her face.

OKEECHOBEE — There is a song, written by Martin Charnin, called “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” and if you’ve ever met Amy Cortez, you would swear she lives by that motto. No matter what she is doing or how she is feeling, she has a smile on her face.

Amy has lived in Okeechobee since 1994. She and her husband, Jorge, have three children, Jonathan, Jacob and Alyssa; daughter-in-law Jennifer; and two grandchildren, Cutter and Skylar.

Amy always tells people she is not a leader, although she has led things successfully, such as Vacation Bible School for her church, Everglades Baptist Church. She prefers to be the “behind the scenes helper,” and this she does very well, too.

She is the type of person who is invited to dinner and shows up early to help make the salad. Then she stays late to wash the dishes while everyone else walks out the door. If she is a part of a group, she is never content to sit on the sidelines; she wants to help. She does not care what the job is. It can be cleaning the bathroom or picking up papers in the parking lot. She is not too proud to do any job that needs to be done. She just wants to be of service to her friends and family and to God.

Amy is also known for her dependability. If she is told to be somewhere at 6 o’clock, you can rest assured she will be there by 5:45. She is never late for anything, ever. She takes commitment very seriously. If she tells someone she will do something, then she will do it or die trying.

Amy is the volunteer church clerk at Everglades Baptist and puts together the bulletin, takes minutes and makes membership directories, things like that. She is also a member of their music ministry and their counting team and volunteers in the nursery.

When Open Hands Health Center had a grant a few years ago and was able to offer some of their patients the opportunity to join a local gym for free, she was one of the few chosen but was told it was not an opportunity to be taken lightly. There were not many spots available, and they did not want anyone to take a spot and waste the opportunity. Amy took that spot and joined the gym. She has been going to the gym five days a week, rain or shine, for two hours each day for the last three years. She lost 70 pounds. Even after she developed plantar fasciitis, she kept going and did the exercises she was able to do.

Amy’s daughter Alyssa is a member of several 4-H clubs, Awanas and takes Tae Kwon Do classes. Amy takes her to all the meetings and helps out anywhere she is needed. She has been home-schooling Alyssa for several years and teaches classes for the local homeschool group.

Her friend Coreen described her as someone who is always there to listen, and Rachel Nickalson, who is a friend from church, said she is always willing to serve and follows through with commitments. Amy Dupree, who teaches classes with her in the homeschool group, said, “She is honest and open and has a lovely smile that brightens up your day.”

All of the things Amy does, she does with a cheerful attitude and a smile on her face, and that is what makes her so inspiring.

As the song says, “It’s what you wear from ear to ear and not from head to toe that matters … Remember you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

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