CES Employee Donates One Lunch Break a Week to Meals on Wheels
More than 130 hours of volunteer work, and almost 2,000 meals delivered for Meals on Wheels since 2016. For most people, that seems impossible. For Richard “Boo” Smith, an Outside Sales Rep for CES Myrtle Beach, it came out to just one lunch break a week.
“The big thing is to just do it,” he said. “Make time for it, even if it’s just 5 minutes a week. No matter how much time you have to give, you can help someone in your community.”
So, how did Smith get involved with Meals on Wheels? Simple. He just googled it.
“When I moved to Myrtle Beach, I thought I should get involved,” Smith said. “I googled the contact info of the person in charge of our local Meals on Wheels, and they said I could try it out a few times to see how I liked it. They were just a few minutes away from CES Myrtle Beach, so everything just kind of fell into place.”
By “fell into place,” Smith means that it was one of the easiest things he ever did. And after 130 hours of volunteering, it’s safe to say that he really enjoys it.
To this day, you can still find Smith on his lunch breaks picking up a few coolers of food and water, then spending the next hour delivering it to people in need.
More than Just Meals on Wheels
Today, Meals on Wheels is truly providing a life-saving service. With the pandemic, it’s hard for many people — especially the elderly — to safely get groceries, and Smith is just happy to do his part to help.
“This year, the number of people we’re delivering to has really increased,” Smith said, thinking back on his last four years of volunteer work. “Before, I might be delivering to five or six people. Now, it’s up to 11.”
And sometimes, it’s not just meals that these people need — it’s someone to talk to.
“The people we help don’t receive many visitors or interact with people because of pre-existing conditions or age. Some don’t have a lot of family nearby to visit them, which is why Meals on Wheels is helping them in the first place.”
Smith went on.
“Fortunately, a lot of people can get groceries delivered through apps, but a big part of the service we provide is a personal one,” he said. “Even if I’m delivering meals to 11 people that day, I have to remember to slow down, listen to them, hear what they have to say. For some, this is the biggest part of their week.”
And Smith’s local Meals on Wheels is making changes to help out. Starting January 1, they’ll be doing more deliveries each week for the simple reason that the people they help need someone to talk to.
“Our local chapter’s motto is: Serving God’s love one meal at a time,” Smith added. “We’re delivering more than just food. We’re telling people in our community that they are cared for and loved.”
You Got to Start Somewhere
Smith wasn’t always a volunteering pro. He volunteered with his church pretty regularly, but the first time he volunteered on his own, he didn’t know what to expect.
“I was nervous as heck the first time I delivered food,” he laughed. “I didn’t know where I was going or who I’d be helping, but once you do it the first time, you realize you’re doing something good. You might be out of your comfort zone, but that little bit of discomfort means the world to the person you’re helping.”
“Plus,” he added, “it’s a little more satisfying to do it on your own.”
When Smith started volunteering with Meals on Wheels four years ago, it was just something he did. He wasn’t aiming for any goal, he just wanted to give back one lunch break a week.
Some years he might do all 52 weeks in a row, some he might do a little bit less, but he always tries to give back once a week.
“Work doesn’t always stop,” he said. “As an outside sales rep, I might have to pull into someone’s driveway to send an email or send a quote in the middle of a delivery, but we all have the tools to lend a hand.”
But what about all of that time, right? That’s the biggest thing people don’t have nowadays.
Smith completely disagrees.
“There’s time,” he said. “We all think we’re too busy to do more, but time will get freed up if you just look into it. If you care, you’ll make time for it. The best time for me was once a week on my lunch break. It doesn’t sound like much, but it has added up over the years.”
Meals on Wheels: Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Any time you volunteer in your community, you’re helping someone who lives close to you. For Smith, he found that out when he delivered to a veteran who lived in a retirement home.
“I was making a delivery to a veteran who I almost always deliver to, but his address changed,” Smith reflected. “I thought it was a typo, so I visited the same home I always stopped at. A neighbor told me that he’d moved, and, sure enough, helped show me to where he moved to.”
“Before I even got to his door, a second neighbor who lived in his correct building came out and walked me straight to the veteran’s door,” Smith said. “Apparently, the first neighbor called the second one to make sure I made it to the right place.”
“I’m always amazed how neighbors look out for their neighbors. When it happened, I just I thought to myself, we don’t look out for each other this much on my street. It’s just reassuring that people are looking out for one another at a time like this.”
You Can Be a Good Neighbor, Too
What’s the most important thing Smith would like for someone to take away from this? Just give it a try.
“You’ll gain more than it’ll cost you,” he promised. “Any volunteer work you do, you’ll gain so much more satisfaction than what you put into it and you get to meet people in your community.”
And during a time like this, volunteering is more important than ever.
“Meals on Wheels never missed a delivery,” Smith said. “Back in March, when everyone stopped, they didn’t. They figured out a safe way to do deliveries, and did a great job communicating to the volunteers what we needed to do. This whole year, the organization has been on top of it, and it just feels great to be helping people during such a hard time.”
Dollars for Doers
On top of Smith giving back his time, he’s also given back hundreds of dollars to his favorite charity through the CES Cares Dollars for Doers program. For every 10 hours of volunteer work Smith tracks at cescares.benevity.org, he receives $100 to donate to a charity of his choice.
“Take advantage of the money you can get from CES Cares,” Smith said. “It’s a great program, and it’s kind of like doubling your investment. Not only are you investing the time to help a cause you care about, but CES is also donating money to that charity.”
“Really, it’s a small effort on our part to get money for a charity we believe in,” he added.
Karen Gray, the CES Cares Manager, is excited to see Richard Smith take full advantage of Dollars for Doers and wants everyone to follow in his footsteps.
“We created Dollars for Doers because we really wanted to empower people to make change in the communities that they live in,” she said. “Richard Smith has clearly gone above and beyond every single year, but just 10 hours of your time could impact dozens of people in your own community.”
To make things even better, if you’re a CES employee and you don’t even know where to get started, CES Cares has you covered.
With the CES Cares Charity Finder, you can search for volunteering opportunities near you just by visiting cescares.benevity.org.
After a few lunch breaks a year, who knows, you might have volunteered over 100 hours just like Richard.