Desi Sims is a true servant leader. He ministers with his gripping personal story.
Updated: Oct 11
Desi Sims knows what’s it like to be on the bottom. When patients at Lee County Cooperative Clinic come to him with their problems, he shows empathy. He cares and sincerely wants to help people improve their life. He knows how bad things can get and wants people to learn from his experiences.
He was addicted to alcohol and cocaine. For 15 years.
“It took me to some very strange places,” Sims recalled. “I lived a very destitute lifestyle. I slept on abandoned streets. But by the grace of God, I’ve now been clean and sober for 24 years.”
Sims, 59, of Marianna, now channels energy into the service of others in multiple ways.
He serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the Lee County Cooperative Clinic. For his day job, he’s a director for an organization that helps connect people charged with crimes to the help they need to combat addiction. He also volunteers at homeless shelters.
“God sent me back to serve the same area he pulled me out of,” he says.
But that’s not all. He also pastors a church in Lee County and another church in Phillips County.
During a recent stop at the town square in Marianna, a man walked up to Sims from the nearby Lee County Courthouse. He shared with Sims his continued troubles with the law. Sims urged the man to take his medication, make healthy life choices, and break a harmful pattern of behavior. Finally, he offered to visit with the man.
“Let’s talk,” Sims said. “We’ll get it right.”
Sims is on his third year as Board chair of the Lee County Cooperative Clinic, the first Community Health Center in Arkansas. It’s headquartered in Marianna but serves a wide swath of a heavily-poverty stricken area of the Delta.
He sees his goal on the Board to create a governance structure that ensures accountability while allowing the chief executive officer the freedom to “unleash her creativity” without being second-guessed.
“My passion is for my hometown and for my county. We live in an area where many people are trapped in the quicksand of poverty and injustice,” said Sims, referencing a famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We’re on the bottom of the pole with everything. But as far as access to health care, this clinic has been an icon to the community.”