Story By Lela Atwood
Q: Why should people volunteer?
A: Volunteering brings a different kind of satisfaction than a job. You do it solely when you want to with the satisfaction and the knowledge that you are helping people. You get a better idea of what you have. It’s not easy for most people, especially for those with physical handicaps or MR [mental retardation]. They have a different life than you do that is not always pleasant.
Q: How has volunteering benefited your life?
A: You get a lot more pleasure, satisfaction and joy for yourself in a way that nothing else brings. It blesses others and is so worthwhile. I would recommend it to anyone with time to spare. It’s very fulfilling.
Q: How did you become interested in helping the poor?
A: Way back in high school I always had empathy for folks that don’t have what I have. I felt some kind of responsibility and wanted to help them so that they have dignity and respect. A lot of this came from my church background. I’ve always liked working with the poor. People with MR have no money. Most receive money from family or get $500 a month of Social Security if they’re lucky.
Q: How did you get involved with Mission Waco?
A: I wanted to work with the poor. We forget that there are people in Waco who are pretty bad off. I thought I’d like to work at Mission Waco, but things didn’t work out until Jimmy Dorrell [founder of Mission Waco] spoke at my church. I decided I needed to go outside of the church, inside of the community, to see what was going on, so I signed up online and talked to the coordinator. I volunteer at the Meyer Center in downtown Waco where the people off the street often need psychological services. There are so many people in need and not enough hands. We stay busy.
Meals on Wheels
Q: How did you get involved with Meals on Wheels?
A: My pastor kept announcing from the pulpit that Meals on Wheels [at Woodway First United Methodist Church] needed a coordinator. We had a crew but needed someone for paperwork and to be a spokesperson. I felt that it was something worthwhile to do. He was so relieved.
Q: Does Meals on Wheels have another purpose besides serving meals?
A: People we give meals to want us to stay and visit. Human contact means as much to them as food does. They’re lonely and I feel like the visit means the world to them. Some elderly people don’t have family nearby or know their neighbors very well. Usually just a few minutes of conversation will mean a lot to them. It blesses others and is so worthwhile.
Q: How has Meals and Wheels given you purpose after your husband’s death?
A: My husband was a very good person. It was easy to love him and take care of him because we were so close. He had a stroke in December 1995, so I took care of him. Since my husband’s death it’s always been important for me to do something that brings purpose and meaning. I have to get up and be at the church by 8. You can’t help but have structure. If you don’t have anything to do, you feel adrift. Meals on Wheels is worthwhile because I know the reactions of elderly people who get the meals. It’s not just a busy work thing.