Cliff Smith has “served” all his life. The day after graduation we headed to Boston to sign up for the United States Air Force. He was stationed in Japan where he served our country as a radar operator during the Korean War. After discharge he worked as a sheet metal mechanic for 25 years.
In 1975 he met and married his wife Nancy who passed away in 2009. Not knowing what to do next, Cliff went to see a grief counselor who suggested to him that he might enjoy volunteering.
He contacted RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), where he found the perfect volunteer assignment as a volunteer driver. He also joined the Future In Sight team in May 2014. During his service at Future In Sight he was the co-recipient of the Jo Adcock Service Award in 2019.
Cliff is a quiet man who likes to listen instead of talk. If he is available, without hesitation, he accepts the ride request. Cliff will never say no to a cup of coffee and some good conversation. He really enjoys helping, and giving of himself to his community.
I recently sat down with Cliff to ask him some questions about his volunteering experience, here is what he had to say.
Donna: What made you decide to volunteer?
Cliff: I was brought up in a generation when if someone needed help you would help. People were there for one another. If you didn’t have time you would make the time. After my wife passed away I went to a counselor because I needed help with my grief. They suggested to me that volunteering would not only benefit the person or agency I was helping, but volunteering would also help me. So I gave it a try.
Donna: How did you decide what volunteer assignment would be best for you?
Cliff: After talking to the person in charge of the volunteers I knew that being a driver would be best. I like driving. I’m fortunate I can still drive. It was a great choice for me.
Donna: What do you get from volunteering?
Cliff: I never expected anything from volunteering I thought, I have the time, why not help someone in need. I shortly realized that not only am I helping out but volunteering made me feel better; it kept me busy and gave me a purpose. I’ve met so many new people who I really enjoy helping. I know that they are very grateful and appreciative. Many have become my friends.
Donna: How did driving change for you during the pandemic this year?
Cliff: Driving slowed down starting at the end of March 2020 because people were staying home. Before that, I was driving quite a few times a week. Now I’m driving only when someone needs to go to the doctors. I liked the rules that Future In Sight created – they made me feel like I could still drive and be safe. Having conversations with someone sitting in the back seat with a mask on, and the windows cracked can be challenging, though! The guidelines are simple and make a lot of sense. One thing that hasn’t changed is they need a ride and I have the time.
Donna: What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
Cliff: Do it! If you have a little bit of time, it will make a difference. I remember being scared not knowing how to help people who are visually impaired and after the training and meeting the people there was nothing to be scared of. Everyone I give rides to are very grateful. It makes me feel really good to be able to help.
Cliff is a living example of how the act of volunteering can be as rewarding for the person volunteering as it is for the recipient. If you have ever considered becoming a volunteer, we have many ways that you can contribute. Please contact us today for more information!
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Or call: 603-224-4039