Among volunteers, it seems even as the years roll on and the inexorable passage of time takes its toll, the spirit of giving of oneself and doing for others doesn’t diminish.
Jodie Hillard is pushing 83. While she doesn’t volunteer at the level she has across the past several decades, she still does what she can, and her willingness is an inspiration to others.
A member of Bridgeport Christian Church since 1993, Hillard’s volunteer work began years before when she and her late husband, Charlie, belonged to Highland Christian.
While at Bridgeport, she became chairman of the church’s Missions and Outreach Committee shortly after agreeing to serve as vice chairman.
“Ted Sloan was chairman,” Hillard recalls, “but he had to step aside after a short time and asked me to serve.”
Under her guidance, the church developed an outreach ministry that touched many agencies and individuals in the community. Then, of course, current and former committee and church members would agree it’s hard to say “no” to Jodie.
“I never hesitated to ask for help,” she said, “and the people were always there to respond. A lot of good people at Bridgeport did — and continue to do — a lot of good things.”
Currently, Hillard is continuing a personal outreach to the residents at Morning Pointe assisted living facility with Keith McAliley, who served as the church’s minister for many years until just a few months ago.
“When Keith said he was leaving (the church),” Hillard recalls, “he told me he was going to continue going to Morning Pointe every other Monday night to play the piano and sing with the residents.”
A talented musician, McAliley asked Hillard to join him.
“I don’t do much,” she said, laughing. “I just kind of pep up the crowd.”
And “pepping up the crowd” is an important characteristic for any leader of volunteers — leading through example and enthusiasm. And Jodie is able to do it better than most.
She said she couldn’t do as much volunteering when she was working as school secretary at Hearn and then at Frankfort High. She ended her career working with the Legislative Research Commission, first “taking care of” 120 legislators and later as a liaison between lobbyists and legislators.
Across her years of volunteering she’s worked at the soup kitchen, fixed lunches for Habitat for Humanity workers, worked with the Salvation Army Christmas Angels program, shopped for underprivileged children at Christmas and helped with countless fundraisers.
She’s served, too, as a member of the board of the soup kitchen, claiming that to be her “great love.”
“I try to tell people who work at the soup kitchen to pause, smile and greet the people who’ve come to eat. Don’t just keep your head turned down looking at the food. That smile means a lot. And don’t judge them since you don’t know their situation.”
Her motivation for volunteering? A love for people.
“It just always gives me a good feeling to help someone,” she said. “Whatever organization or church I was in, I tried to become active, to give some of myself.”
And that’s the advice she would give volunteers: Be active and give of yourself.