John Henneberry (who recently celebrated his 90th birthday) goes about his Tuesday route quietly and without fanfare. He has been distributing Meals On Wheels to the elderly and shut-ins for Southern Rhode Island Volunteers since 1989. He has been at it for 25 years now. This unassuming man, a World War II veteran, feels that he has been lucky. He tells me “Life’s been good to me. Volunteering is a way to give a little back.” Sometimes John is the only human a recipients sees for days, even weeks. A smile of gratitude when he hands someone a meal is all the reward he needs to keep on going.
Richard Chellis, a self-described history buff, makes a great tour guide. While he may not describe himself as “gregarious,” visitors on our tour of the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace & Museum were certainly enjoying his personable and informal tellings of the life and times of Gilbert Stuart.
Last Thursday, we stopped by the Museum for a tour with Richard, an 11-year SRIV volunteer, who has volunteered for 8 of those years at the Gilbert Stuart Museum in Saunderstown. It was a rainy day and as we ducked into the mill building Mr. Chellis was explaining how the mill worked in the time of Gilbert Stuart and stopping to ask where our fellow tour-takers were from. As we moved from room to room in main house Mr. Chellis frequently stopped and imparted brief, entertaining stories to add life and color to the story of Gilbert Stuart’s earliest days. A natural storyteller, Mr. Chellis wondered out loud about the safety of women and children around the hearth in the 18th century and educated visitors on the origins of the phrases “nose-to-the-grindstone” and “pop-goes-the-weasel.”
Mr. Chellis, a retired postal worker, volunteers at both Smith’s Castle and the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum. After our tour, Richard told us his favorite part of volunteering at the Museum is, “sharing the stories” of Gilbert Stuart and his home in Saunderstown with visitors from across the country. Another bonus of his work: “You are always learning something here […] sometimes even from the visitors!” Mr. Chellis explained that being a docent can be a great experience for all kinds of people, but “having an interest in art, history and especially colonial history” would serve all future docents well.
Richard has also volunteered with SRIV delivering Meals on Wheels since 2002 two or three Thursdays each month. After visiting with him, we do not expect Mr. Chellis to slow down anytime soon; when asked about his Meals on Wheels volunteering, he immediately declared, “I’ll never give it up. Why should I?”
Stop by and take a tour around the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace with Richard; he is there every Thursday from 1-4pm – you will be glad you did!
Thank you Richard for all you do to make South County a better place for residents and visitors alike!
"Volunteerism should be our natural way of being," according to Susan Stiles, semi-retired clergy. A life-long volunteer, like so many of Southern Rhode Island Volunteers, Susan has found just the right places within the organization to lend her time and talents. Having served on SRIV's board for two plus years. the marketing committee for two years, and on the Peace Dale Estates residents' board, Susan currently spends much of her time working with the garden team at Peace Dale Estates and is dedicated steward at the South Kingstown Community Garden.
Additionally, she plays a vital role in the creation and dissemination of the Alternative Giving Cards promotion for Southern Rhode Island Volunteers. While Susan has enjoyed assisting in administrative roles for SRIV, her passion is all about utilizing a hands-on approach to lending her support to the community.
An Episcopal priest for the Church of the Holy Spirit in Charlestown, Susan unknowingly radiates the kind of warm essence that one feels long after she leaves the room. She says that she encourages her congregation to become volunteers, suggesting that "Your passion should go along with what you do. One should know what it is that they enjoy doing and pursue volunteers opportunities that match, creating a win, win experience for all."
- Lucretia Bullock
(Picture: Rev. Susan Stiles at the South Kingstown Community Garden where she has maintained plot #21, donating excess produce for the Jonnycake Center of Peacedale, for five years. Picture Credit: David Floyd)
Interview with Aaron..... The Gates Tradition!
What is your vocation? I am a college student majoring in finance
How do you spend your leisure time? With my friends
What is your favorite movie? Braveheart
People would be surprised to know that: I like to garden!
What inspires you? My family and peers
How do you feel you are "changing lives?" I work "behind the scenes" to help maintain accurate information which allows SRIV to continue its programs of service.
How has SRIV helped you reach your goals to serve? SRIV offers me the opportunity to serve at over 100 sites as well as in the main offices.
Listen to Aaron's Testimonial on Volunteering......
If you would like to support Aaron and SRIV, every dollar helps us help more people in need in Rhode Island. Thank You!
Adam Coutu loves to "Brighten someone's day"
Interview with Adam.......
What is your vocation? Pharmacist
How do you spend your leisure time? Beach, Hiking, Walking, Acting - Movie Extra
What is your favorite movie? Good fellas
People would be surprised to know that: Even though I am 6'6, I am a lousy basketball player!
What inspires you? Perserverance over Adversity
How do you feel you are "changing lives"? I approach each task as an opportunity to brighten someone's day!
Do you have a hobby? I love to do things outdoors and I love volunteering!
How has SRIV helped you reach your goals to serve? They have a wide array of volunteer choices/different activities to pinpoint exactly what I want to do to serve!
Listen to Adam talk about the power of volunteering...
Let me know what you think by commenting below. If you are able, support me by supporting SRIV. Every dollar helps us help more people in need in Southern Rhode Island.