(Posted May 13, 2015)
John “Jack” Watkins is among 13 individuals who will be inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. The ceremony is set for 1 p.m. May 20 at the Martin Janis Center in Columbus. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.
Watkins, a London resident, started volunteering for the LifeCare Alliance Meals-on-Wheels program in 2008. He delivered meals in Franklin County and then transferred to Madison County in 2010. As a volunteer, he demonstrates a strong commitment to the mission of LifeCare Alliance and to the clients he serves.
Watkins works to ensure that home-bound Madison County residents receive a hot, nutritious meal and a warm smile. Older adults and individuals living with a medical challenge or disability look forward to his arrival. For many of them, Watkins may be the only person visiting that day, checking on their well-being and engaging them in conversation. His efforts enable Meals-on-Wheels clients to remain safe and independent in the comfort of their own homes as he helps to improve their quality of life.
In recognition of his dedication to the most vulnerable members of the com-munity, LifeCare Alliance presented Watkins with the Don Dhume Award two years in a row. This award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution as a Meals-on-Wheels volunteer by accumulating the most hours delivering meals to homebound neighbors. Watkins recorded 360 hours for 2013 and accumulated comparable hours in 2014, a very praiseworthy accomplishment.
Currently, Watkins delivers Meals-on-Wheels four days a week, covering three routes. He even picked up a fourth route that he can deliver if Meals-on-Wheels needs an extra volunteer in Madison County.
After he retired in 1992, Watkins first volunteered with the local chapter of the American Red Cross. For nearly 10 years, he worked with the Disaster Action Team to respond to single-family fires in Columbus, providing food, shelter and essential relief supplies, along with comfort and hope to the victims of these tragedies.
Not only did he serve the central Ohio community during his tenure with the Red Cross, but he also worked as a Disaster Services volunteer to provide critical supplies and support to families affected by major national disasters such as fire, hurricanes and tornadoes. He responded to hurricanes in Puerto Rico and various national disasters in Alabama, California, Oregon and New York.
Watkins’ unwavering commitment to multiple causes for central Ohio and the nation is truly commendable. He has lifted individuals and families out of a vulnerable period in their lives by providing them with their most basic needs: food and shelter. His tireless efforts to assist neighbors locally and nationally illustrate his remarkable selflessness and strength of character. Watkins is a role model for leading an active, meaningful life as a volunteer helping others who are less fortunate.
Volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels
LifeCare Alliance is in need of volunteers to deliver meals to the elderly in Madison County.
Routes are available throughout the county, with convenient pick-up locations in London, Plain City, West Jefferson and Mount Sterling. Most routes take about an hour to complete. All start at about 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.
New volunteers must fill out an application, have a background check, and complete a one-hour training.
For more information, call Madison County coordinator Leah Baird at (740) 845-7325 or the LifeCare Alliance hotline at (614) 444-MEAL.