Meridian Star

Life

February 24, 2013

Heart of Meridian and Lauderdale County alive and well

MERIDIAN — As I begin my fourth year as director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Meridian/Lauderdale County, I am looking forward to new challenges, making new acquaintances and seeking out new opportunities to increase our impact in the community we serve.

    Looking back on the last three years, I have witnessed continued growth in our program and feel blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful program.

    In 2013, I will be representing many organizations, including; RSVP, The United Way, Senior Corps and The Corporation for National and Community Service as a board member for The National Senior Corps Association, representing the Southern cluster. This position will enable me to go to Washington D.C., to meet with Senate and House members who will vote on government funding for non-profits. I look at this position as an opportunity to also represent Meridian and Mississippi.

Volunteer of the Month

    When I am in the process of choosing a Volunteer of the Month, I realize just how hard it is to choose from so many special and dedicated RSVP volunteers. This month, my choice was very clear due to the recent activity surrounding this volunteer, and I think you will agree after hearing this heartwarming story.

    Benny Harrison is our Volunteer of the Month due to his dedication to a family who is dealing with a terminal illness. He has been a volunteer since July 27, 2012. When Benny first became one of our volunteers, he stated that he just wanted to help other people and check on them.

    Just before Benny came into the office, I had become aware of a couple in the area who was going through some very hard times as the husband had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The wife was his caregiver and was in need of a helping hand, so I forwarded this information to Benny.

     Benny responded enthusiastically and has been a wonderful support person for this family. He calls them several times a week, runs errands for them, and even showed up at their door on Christmas Day (in the rain) with holiday treats. He also checks to see what needs this couple has, and if he feels that we can provide any additional support for them he comes by or calls our office.  

    Benny recently informed us that this couple needed some wood cut for their space heater, (some wood had been delivered, but was not cut short enough for their heater). After being notified of the need, Deputy Sheriff Ward Calhoun responded to the need of this couple and assisted them in cutting the wood to the correct size and stacked the wood in a convenient location.

    We then became aware that there were no working smoke alarms in the home, and a call to the local fire department was made; their response was heartwarming, and the alarms will be installed.  

    Benny is employed as a florist in the Winn-Dixie located on Highway 45 North. He is a perfect example of someone having a volunteer heart, who wants to make a difference in his community. Benny also teaches flower arranging at Meridian Activity Center.

    If you see Benny, please thank him for making a difference in the lives of others.  

    I am a very lucky person to have so many wonderful people in my life; this challenges me to be a better person. I am sharing this story today because it shows how one person can make a difference in the lives of others, and the power of a community that works together to solve problems, you could be that one person to someone with a smile or a kind word.  Every day is an opportunity for us to be a positive force in our community.  

    I first became aware of the words “LIVE UNITED,” when I came to Meridian and applied for a career opportunity with The United Way of East Mississippi as the director of RSVP.  I believe that slogan is evident in the story I am sharing because if two or more are united in a common cause, we can make a community we can all be proud of. I encourage all who read this story to become more aware of the needs of those around us. I also encourage everyone to check their smoke detectors every six months, and replace the batteries often, and clear a 5-foot area around all space heaters.

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