|Ron Winner (left) of Shepley Wood Products talks to HAC’s Deanna Bussiere as she slices bread in the kitchen of the NOAH Shelter.
On the final day of March a light snow fell on Hyannis, proof that Mother Nature was not going out like a lamb this month.
It was the type of bitter spring day that would keep most inside and at one point Ron Winner of Craigville Beach, contemplated doing just that after he had completed his shift at Shepley Wood Products where he is an outside sales representative.
But he did not. Instead he left work and headed to the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, where he helped Julie Wake, HAC’s director of communications and development, and Deanna Bussiere, HAC’s event and resource development coordinator, cook and serve lasagna to 55 men and women who are homeless.
Adorned in a Boston Red Sox shirt – it was the first day of their 162-game season – Winner clearly could have been elsewhere, but he chose to volunteer a little more than an hour of his time feeding those less fortunate. “I do it because one day I could be here,” he said.
Later that night he went home to his wife Wendy and considered how fortunate his life has been.
Donating his time in such a way – over the past eight years he has served meals on a monthly basis to those in similar situations at CHAMP Homes in Hyannis – plays a vital role in his life.
And he viewed his March experience at HAC’s NOAH Shelter in the same vein. “I think it is valuable period because you get to learn about what life is all about and you are grateful for what you have,” he said. “And you realize there are people out there that need a little help.”
Greg Bar, the manager at NOAH, said volunteers like Winner are not an option, but a necessity at the shelter. “Every meal, every dinner is served by a volunteer group or an individual,” he said.
During Winner’s first foray in serving meals at the shelter he encountered one Harwich woman who was dropping off Klondike Bars for NOAH clients that evening. She has volunteered at NOAH feeding the homeless for the past 23 years. “I feel blessed to do it,” she said. “The sad thing is you see a lot of the same people here year after year.”
Benefits of Continuous Volunteerism
Bar lauded volunteers such as these and the positive impact they are having on the community. “It is one thing to get sentimental around Thanksgiving and give a donation. It is another thing to do it month after month, year after year,” he said. “I think there is a deep desire to want to help people on a deeper and more effective level and these people get it. When you do this on a long-term basis there is something on the inside that is fulfilled.”
Volunteer groups are asked to cook or bring in prepared meals and then serve them to NOAH clients. Bar said he has one recommendation for those who want to volunteer at NOAH: “Think about what kind of meal you would like to eat.”
Favorites for clients tend to be pork roast, steak, a chef salad with chicken and fresh vegetables.
And the shelter is always in need of food donations, particularly milk, eggs, butter and drinks.
Typically NOAH will see an uptick in volunteerism during the holidays – November and December – with a decrease as the weather gets warmer. “The fact is people eat the same in the summer as they do in the winter,” Bar said.
While he is always looking for more volunteers, Bar can be assured that he will have at least one extra hand helping out throughout the year. Winner has plans to volunteer again, on a more regular basis, at the NOAH Shelter. “I love giving back,” Winner said. “I don’t have a lot to give money wise, but I can serve. And I think a lot of people need to realize they can help out that way.”