Leo Duford, a Meals On Wheels volunteer who has worked at the Maplewood Senior Center in Garden City for the past four years delivering hot meals to homebound seniors, said it was mostly post-retirement boredom that made him consider volunteering. He has never regretted that decision.
"Well, I retired, and I was looking for something to do. I can't do anything that takes much talent," he said jokingly. "I'm not handy at anything. And I was reading in the paper 'Volunteers needed for Meals on Wheels'. Actually, me and my cousin were working at it. We both came over together and she (site manager Regina Jackson) threw us right on the line. They were really hurting for people. Really hurting."
When asked what he likes about being a volunteer, that wasn't a hard question to answer.
"The people I work with, they're wonderful people. And when you deliver these meals you don't think of them as much, but people are so grateful to get them. My mom used to get Meals On Wheels and it's a big help," he said.
"I've been doing this awhile, and people come and people go. But some people you get to know them and you know everything about them. I had a couple of World War II veterans and they passed away."
Leo concedes that it always hurts a little when he notices that a name has been crossed off his delivery list, but it is a part of the experience that he accepts as doing a good thing for his neighbor.
"If you're looking for something to do and you want to help others, they're hurting for drivers."
Regina Jackson, who nominated Leo, said he is someone special.
"Because he's a great person. He never says no. Him and the other guy who works with him. I'm left-handed, and I tell them all the time that they're my right hands. We're just one big happy family. I love what I'm doing and if I didn't I sure wouldn't be doing it for the pay. I do it because I like people I work with. We laugh all day, and we have a good time."