It’s February, the season of love! To celebrate, CEAP is sharing stories of our volunteers, donors, and community members. This week, we’re celebrating Mike White, who has been volunteering with our CEAP Meals on Wheels program since 2012.
Mike experienced a quick transition into retirement after a career at CenterPoint Energy, and almost immediately felt some discontent about not “accomplishing” anything in the day-to-day of retired life. “As I look back on my retirement, one day I’m doing the job and being depended on, and the next day someone else is doing it all. You lose a little bit of self-worth.” Sure, it was nice to have some time to himself, but Mike felt a need to accomplish something.
To solve this problem, Mike looked for something to fill his time and give him that feeling of a job well done. Mike discovered CEAP’s food shelf, and began volunteering on a regular schedule. “When I started, I had a regularly scheduled time to be at CEAP and they really needed the work I was doing.”
“When I volunteer, I set up a pattern and they can depend on me. Being dependable is important to me.”
After a back injury, Mike was looking for an opportunity with a lower physical demand than CEAP’s Food Market. He soon discovered that CEAP had a significant need for volunteers to deliver Meals on Wheels to our neighbors, and joined the CEAP Meals on Wheels team!
Eight years later, Mike continues to deliver CEAP’s Meals on Wheels. He’s here every Thursday and Friday, and delivers to the same neighbors each week. This consistency has allowed him to develop close relationships with participants who he delivers meals to, because participants will open up and want to talk more with someone they’ve seen often.
“One participant I started delivering meals to was in pretty poor health. She hardly ever came out of her house. Over the past several months, her health has improved and now she’s able to be more social. It’s exciting to see!”
Mike has made a lot of friends through Meals on Wheels, and although it can be really sad when a Meals on Wheels participant passes away or has to move to assisting living, Mike insists that there is more gratification than disappointment in his volunteer role. “I discovered that one of my participants is a big reader, so now each week we talk about what we’re reading that week. We chat about life, we reminisce about her cabin, and we just talk.”
When one of Mike’s participants, Marlys, was moved to a nursing home, he was able to go and visit her. She stayed very mentally sharp until she passed, and Mike hopes that the daily Meals on Wheels visits and his visits to her in the nursing home helped with that.
Mike is passionate about his role as a volunteer for CEAP’s Meals on Wheels program, and loves getting to know the folks he delivers meals to. As Mike says, “Meals on Wheels is more than a volunteer position— it’s a relationship. It’s built on trust.”
Want to be a rock star volunteer like Mike? Check out our volunteer opportunities and join the team: www.ceap.org/volunteer