A Child of God, A Wife, A Mother, A Grandmother, Relative to many and Friend; a Company President, Non-Profit Founder & Executive Director, Human Rights Activist, Community Leader, Volunteer and a Caregiver
Arlene was born September 20, 1950. She is the oldest daughter of the six children born to the late Thad Cain and Ora Lee Jackson Cain. In 1967 she became a teenage bride to her first and now deceased spouse of 31 years, Ernest E. Smith. July 5, 2014 she became the wife of a loving, caring and giving man, Russell J. Sanders. He is the owner of Russell’s Seasoning Blends, LLC; where she serves as the Company’s president. Also, she serves as the overseer and caretaker of the over l00 year old Cain Family Cemetery. Arlene and her deceased spouse, Ernest shared parenthood of four biological children; Ernest, Jr., Shantell, Thad (deceased), and Candyce. In addition, today she and Russell are the proud parents of their three Sanders adult children, Russell, Jr., Tabatha and John. Arlene is the proud grandmother of eight biological grandchildren and she became both mother and grandmother to her first and oldest 25-year old oldest grand-daughter, Kristen. This was at the age of three-years-old after witnessing the horrific murder of her mother by her father followed by the tragic suicide of her father, Thad.
Arlene has also served as a parent figure to numerous other children and youth who were part of her volunteer and community outreach programs for children, youth and families. Her volunteer service spans many years with numerous organizations; to include the Community Association for the Welfare of School Children (CAWSC), Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), IV-H Home Retreat Center and many others. Her passion for helping others became addictive to Arlene and her first husband, Ernest. For several years until his death January 1998, they who served as a host family to the LSU International Hospitality Foundation for the international students who were in need of guidance and a place to spend holidays; when unable to go home.
For the greater part of Arlene’s teen years and adult life, she has been actively involved in the lives of so many children and other persons in need of either help or support; be it either financial, community or educational. Her community service became a journey she travels from day-to-day which started with her close relationship with her late father, Thad Cain; who was the pillar of support to the elderly, youth and families. Arlene spends an excessive amount of her personal/private time before work, during work, after work on weekends and holidays helping family members, friends, neighbors, church members and so many others in need; many living within the rural community of Arlene’s birth, youth and retirement. Many individuals find themselves to be less knowledgeable about specific issues involving family matters, finances, employment, education, neighborhood actions, legal issues, civil and human rights and do not hesitate to call on Arlene for answers.
Arlene, along with her deceased husband established the first scholarship fund at the St. Luke Baptist Church, the Church of her christening, baptism, and first marriage. Since her July 5, 2014 marriage to Russell, they together started a second scholarship fund at a second small community church; to help support the higher education needs of those youth who desire to continue their education beyond high school. Arlene’s education and work experiences serve as opportunities to help her to grow and continue to blossom into the community activist and career woman she is today. She serves as an ideal role model to many of the young women and men who call on her for guidance and advice.
Arlene work experiences began 1967-68 with her first job as a summer kitchen helper at the old Southern Belle’s Sandwich Shop. She was a young wife and mother. With sheer determination, drive and the support family members and friends she was determined to move up in life. It was after her 1968 graduation from McKinley High School, she received in 1970 her Certification in Business Training from Capitol Area Vocational School, Baton Rouge. Then, Arlene worked full-time and received two degrees from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. Her first was a B.A., Journalism-News Ed, 1997, with a minor in Business Administration and her second a MPA, Public Administration Institute, 12/2003.
Arlene’s work career, after that summer job at the Sandwich Shop, showed evidence of a commendable spirit of growth. During her work career at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA Arlene demonstrated a progression of both growth and achievements. She began her work career at LSU in 1972-1976 as a Steno-Clerk II, LSU Division of Engineering Research; promoted 08/72-10/76 – Steno-Clerk with LSU Engineering Science; 11/77-04/85 – wanting a change in duties and to continue her education she accepted a position as Typist Clerk III, LSU Coastal Studies Institute, 04/85-10/87. This was followed by a progression of promotions as noted until her retirement – Word Processor Operator, 10/1987-10/1987 – Office Coordinator 2, 10/1987-02/1992 – Administrative Services Assistant; 02/1992-06/1996 – Administrative Manager; and 07/1996-06/30/1999 – Assistant to the Director at the Coastal Studies Institute – LSU until her official early retirement the Fall 1999.
Arlene often shares with others various parts of her life story by saying “to God be the glory for everything that He has done in my life” and “the more you give the more He will give to you. You can’t beat God giving because it is really true.” She learned these words from her early childhood, as a baptized member of the St. Luke Baptist Church, of rural East Baton Rouge Parish. Many family members and friends will share with others without hesitation that Arlene is truly a child of God; a true warrior and overcomer of the unforeseen, a trailblazer, and a woman with a big heart who finds it hard to say no when called upon no matter what the circumstances. She is always ready and willing to fight a legal battle with others or with government regardless of the level; that is from her house to your house all the way to The White House. She will fight the SSA, the VA and any other city, state and/or federal agencies relevant to matters of money, housing, food, employment, life and death situation, and much more.
Arlene never fail to give God the glory, next her parents, teachers and so many others who placed within her the drive to live a godly and humble life; and to always help those in need. An old saying her father left with her is “the more you give, the more God will give to you – you can’t bear God’s giving because it’s really true..!” Arlene is one who lives the life of a Godly Woman and continues to serve as a guiding force in lives of both the young and old alike. She is the epitome of someone who never looks down on anyone and always right there to offer a helping hand to pick them up in whatever way she can.
The most important goal of her earthly life which is the driving and guiding force in her life is to follow the theme “no child left behind.” This is evident in her being the founder, financier, executive director and the guiding force in the purchase, development, implementation, growth and positive outcomes of the Board of Directors, donors and numerous volunteers affiliated with the Hurt, Help, Heal, Hope IV-H Home Retreat Center, Inc., a non-profit organization. An organization with the founding objectives: to implement and to promote equality as a venture which addresses the health, education, social and welfare needs of less fortunate children, youth, senior citizens and family groups. Arlene is one who works tirelessly to promote equality in healthcare, education, welfare and economic development. Arlene works hard and actively interacts with various sectors of the various communities, where she can maximize her God-given talents of communications, human relations, leadership, public relations, management and organizational skills. These talents are needed and used to guide others to excel in their chosen fields of education, employment and community service.
Lastly, Arlene’s final goal in life is to help others who want to establish profitable small minority businesses; that would serve as models for other small business entrepreneurs at the public, private and/or non-profit levels. As well as, to create greater city, state and federal government awareness about the small minorities businesses struggles to survive this huge ocean of ‘Big Fish.” Today Arlene is blessed to be both the proud wife of a minority, disabled veteran-owned small spice seasoning blends business. A business that serves as a learning objective to help other small businesses to overcome many of the pitfalls associated with registration, financing, marketing, growth and expansion; as well as a contributor to the less fortunate within the community where the business support comes from. Arlene is a woman led by God with a willingness to always serve God first, her family members and all others.