Looking for the Light

By Karen Hendricks

© Duard Van Der Westhuizen,  Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Duard Van Der Westhuizen, Dreamstime Stock Photos

I met an amazing 78-year old man–a life-long volunteer–while writing a freelance magazine article for Celebrate Gettysburg. Dick Radcliff’s name came up several times as I interviewed those in leadership roles at various agencies dependent upon volunteers. He was described as the ideal volunteer–generous with his time, skilled in many ways, and humble in nature. The fact that he does so much and expects so little in terms of recognition, made him the perfect volunteer to feature in the article’s spotlight.

When I met Dick Radcliff in person, he was warm and conversational, and he spoke with empathy about the causes he supported through his volunteer work–everything from United Cerebral Palsy to elementary school tutoring, delivering Meals on Wheels to serving as a board member for the area’s Office of Aging, volunteering in leadership roles at his church to participating in special events organized by the United Way. A gentle kindness seemed to radiate from him.

This remarkable man, after dedicating his 30-year career to Eastman Kodak, did not miss a beat upon retiring at the age of 57. He seamlessly poured his energies into full-time volunteer positions. That was more than 20 years ago and he’s still at it. What an inspiration!

His answers to several of my questions struck me as especially poignant:

Have you ever taken a break from volunteering?

“Nine years ago, I suffered a heart attack on a Sunday and by the following Friday, I returned to volunteering, teaching GED classes.”

What motivates you to volunteer?

“It feels good to know that you’re helping people. Jesus said to help each other and that’s what I try to do. Plus it keeps the brain active.”

Most rewarding volunteer experiences?

“When tutoring students, you look for a light in the eyes. When you’re working with a 10-year old on math and you see that light—that’s what I’m there for.”

If only we could all bring light into the lives of others like Dick Radcliff.

To read the entire article, “Golden Opportunities,” from the March/April 2013 issue of Celebrate Gettysburg, click here.

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