Food Bank of the Rockies’ driver Maurice told us about Phyllis, a remarkable woman he sees regularly at one of his distribution sites. When he expressed she was in her 90s and helped give out food boxes, we knew we had to meet her.
Phyllis seems much younger than her 91 years. She’s legally blind, but you’d never know it from the way she takes charge and organizes the other volunteers. Her spunk and energy radiate through the room. Once a month, Phyllis volunteers to distribute senior boxes to the residents at her retirement community. This month, she handed out eighty 40-pound boxes.
Phyllis tells us she inherited the job. When another resident, Katheryn, fell ill and couldn’t volunteer, Phyllis was asked to step in until she got better. Katheryn never recovered and eventually passed away. Phyllis agreed to continue volunteering. That was 20 years ago. She’s been helping ever since.
She explains why she chooses to give back. “I’ve always done some kind of volunteer work,” she says. “I just enjoy volunteering.” Phyllis looks forward to visiting and helping her neighbors, especially the ones she doesn’t get to see often.
Before she retired, Phyllis worked in printing and regularly lifted heavy boxes of paper. Even though she no longer lifts, she’s found creative ways to get the job done. It’s incredible to watch her scoot the heavy boxes along the floor or push them across the table, using leverage to tip them into the residents’ carts. Sometimes she opens the boxes to remove heavier items so residents have an easier time carrying their food home.
Helping others brings joy to Phyllis, especially since this food is important to her and to her neighbors. Everyone in her building lives on very low fixed incomes. “If they didn’t have this food, some of the people would really need help at the end of the month,” she shares.
Phyllis has found another way to help too. Each box comes with a block of processed cheese. Phyllis isn’t fond of it. “I’m not really a cheese person. I know this cheese can be used a lot,” she tells us and shares that she gives the cheese from her box to other neighbors who enjoy eating it.
Thank you Phyllis! We hope we can be volunteering at 91, just like you. You are truly an inspiration to volunteers everywhere!