Retired Couple Finds Purpose Volunteering Together

By Bill Krasean, Senior Services RSVP Advisory Council Volunteer


The decision to volunteer came naturally to Dave and Helene Wright of Union City when they retired a few years back. Not only did they both want to give some of their newly acquired spare time to helping others, but their daughter, Tracie Wheeler, was the perfect role model.

Tracie is director of RSVP – Your Invitation to Volunteer, a national service program of Senior Services of Southwest Michigan that connects older adult volunteers with area organizations. She heads RSVP’s activities in both Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, where she grew up.

Dave retired in 2010 from Meijer, where he had a number of positions. After retirement he became the first person to volunteer for Senior Services’ Meals on Wheels program in Battle Creek. And when Helene retired as a registered nurse at Bronson Battle Creek in 2012, she joined with her husband.

Twice a week the two load their car with meals and drive a prescribed route, delivering meals to people who might not otherwise enjoy a hot dinner or cold lunch without their volunteer efforts and many other volunteers.  Dave drives and Helene “hops,” taking the meals to seniors.  The route typically takes two hours, although many days it takes longer.

“Some days the people feel the need to talk,” Helene said, “They want social interaction, so I stay a while and talk. Some days Dave comes in too and other days he has been known to honk the horn, a reminder that others need meals too.”

Both worked long hours before they retired and, other than Dave’s coaching duties when their kids were in school, neither had the time to volunteer.  As a nurse, Helene’s job was basically helping people, a portion of the job she liked best. “Sometimes I do miss that part of the job, and the people I worked with,” she said.

Both say that when they retired they lost a sense of purpose, a sense that has been filled by delivering meals on a regular basis. “Meals on Wheels and church activities do help fill our time,” Helene said.

More volunteers are needed with Meals on Wheels, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, Volunteers 4 Seniors for medical rides and grocery shopping help, Mentor Academic Success tutor and mentor program, Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), Senior Services Home Repair, VA Medical Center and more.  Regular, flexible, short-term schedules available, Contact RSVP at 269-382-0515, or click here to complete our online application.