THE 90S VOLUNTEER CLUB by Jill Smith
Alas, not the 1990s! There is a small but mighty club here at SourcePoint – one we all aspire to join – made up of volunteers still serving into their 90s. The newest inductee, Walter Morton, 90, delivers a weekly Meals on Wheels route in one of the far reaches of the county, the village of Ashley. Besides Gene Pillion and Walter Morton sixteen years as a meal driver, Walter and his wife, Donna, have a long history of volunteering with 4-H clubs and international exchange programs. What keeps him volunteering? “I like seeing the people,” says Walter. “You form relationships with the clients, the other volunteers, and the staff.” After their Friday meal route, Walter and Donna can usually be found dining in Cafe 55 with another 90s club member, Gene Pillion.
At 92, Gene delivers two meal routes a week. “I enjoy it and it gives me something to do,” Gene says. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep it up, but age will tell me when to stop.” He started his volunteer journey seventeen years ago with his wife as his delivery partner. After she passed away in 2014, he continued delivering on his own, until his daughter (Nutrition Administrator Karen Pillion, who oversees Meals on Wheels) insisted he solicit a friend to assist him. At one point, Gene delivered up to five different routes. These days, he sticks to his two favorites, Shawnee and Berkshire. “As long as I feel safe driving, I’ll continue to do it.” Gene says. “We’re just tough old guys!” Walter adds.
Cafe 55 volunteer, Ruth Robinson, 92, attributes her youthfulness to line dancing. She was a part of a line dancing group in Marion who “won the battle” of the line dancers. Ruth used to walk Alum Creek Dam with a group of ladies, but now, she walks it alone. Her advice is, “Keep moving.” Ruth grew up in Columbus, married in 1952, and had two kids. She lost her husband in 2019. “He did everything for me.” Says Ruth. “Now I’m learning to do things for myself. I still mow my own grass.” After joining SourcePoint two years ago, she saw a cafe volunteer struggling with the physicality of the job and decided to take on her first-ever volunteer role. “I’ve been blessed, I’ve got good genes.”
At 93, Lorraine Conty is the most senior of our senior volunteers. She took on her first volunteer role about eleven years ago when she joined the marketing department’s monthly mailings group. “I like doing it, I like to get out,” she says. “I like the social interaction.” Besides volunteering, Lorraine is also part of a knitting group that meets weekly at SourcePoint, and she likes eating in Cafe. 55 “I use a walker and the volunteers are wonderful, helping me with my tray. On the days I don’t eat at SourcePoint, I have Meals on Wheels delivered to my home by those special volunteers.”
Walter, Gene, Ruth, and Lorraine are amongst the last of a service minded generation who volunteered so faithfully before the pandemic hastened many departures. The continued commitment to community service that these four volunteers demonstrate is impressive, and SourcePoint members and clients are grateful for all they do. “Our generation lived through tough times,” Walter says. “If we can make things better for others, we will.”