Retiree Helps Feed a Community
Lou Woltering spent 30 years working at the US Forest Service, honing his abilities as a leader and administrator. For the past eight years, Lou, with his wife and partner Kay by his side, has used those hard won skills to directly impact the senior citizen community, raise funds, and organize volunteers to feed the needy in his town of Mayhill, New Mexico. At 70, he’s served two terms as president of the Mayhill Community Center Board, assessing the needs of seniors and doing everything it takes to get the job done.
Lou is making a difference in his community and is today’s Daily Point of Light Award Honoree. Points of Light spoke with Lou about his commitment to service
What inspires you to volunteer?
The opportunity to serve, minister to, bless, and meet the needs of individuals and families in our community and surrounding area.
Describe your volunteer role.
It has grown, taken on a life of its own! While volunteering for the Mayhill Volunteer Fire Department as a fire fighter and first responder in 2010, I learned that the Mayhill Community Center Board (MCCB) needed a president, and I stepped up. My first goal was to figure out a way to start a weekly hot meal program for senior citizens at the Community Center. We didn’t have a kitchen, so we partnered with the Senior Center in Cloudcroft, 19 miles away, which agreed to cook and deliver hot meals. My job was to meet all state requirements for food service. That required writing grants, getting donations, and holding fundraisers to secure funds to buy the necessary appliances, meet ADA requirements and other state parameters. I also developed a volunteer program to set up serve and clean up after the meal each week. In 2013 we became certified to serve hot food and we served our first hot meal on April 25, 2013. The program was so successful that it grew to two hot meals a week. We serve 15-20 local senior citizens twice a week, year round and an additional 20-25 summer attendees when RVers come to the mountains. More fundraising allowed us to become a fully state certified kitchen in 2016, so we could cook our own hot meals. We also used funds and labor donations to build a 20’ X 20’ storage building and an emergency stand-by generator if and when we have to operate as a county designated Emergency Natural Disaster Evacuation and Operations Center. In March 2017, we partnered with Mayhill Baptist Church to use their fellowship hall and parking lot as a Roadrunner food distribution point. Every month we are able to distribute more than 50 pounds of fruits, vegetables and groceries to 40-plus individuals and families in Mayhill and surrounding small mountain communities.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
Originally I thought that providing the hot meal would be the best part of the senior meal program, but the best part has been seeing the fellowship, friendships, camaraderie, and love that participants in both the senior meal program and the Roadrunner program have for one another.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
The blessings you receive in serving people are far greater than any you can give out.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
After eight years serving as president of the MCCB I will step out of that role at the end of this year.I do have a vision of one day helping to secure support and funding to expand the size of the MCC building so we can serve additional people for large events and also have larger restrooms, and a separate room where folks can relax, watch TV or movies, play games, and fellowship with one another in a comfortable setting.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
Because of our strong faith in God, my wife and I believe God wants us to reach out and serve other people with the gifts and talents He has given us.It helps us unite individuals, families, and communities which are the backbone of our great nation.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Having a vision for your community and diligently working toward that vision is very rewarding and produces long term benefits to individuals and families that can last for generations.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Lou Woltering? Visit All for Good for local volunteer opportunities.