Saturday, April 06, 2002

'A treasure' to underprivileged


Hometown hero

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Ross Sorrell, volunteer for Shared Harvest Foodbank, sorts aerosol cans the organization will recycle.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        FAIRFIELD — Helping feed 17,000 families a month takes a lot of hands.

        And Ross Sorrell's are often involved when it comes time to repackage massive quantities of bulk foods or to label hundreds of boxes at Shared Harvest FoodBank in Fairfield. Mr. Sorrell, 66, drives from his Middletown home every Tuesday to volunteer four to six hours at Shared Harvest, working at whatever needs doing, from spending hours on the tedious but necessary job of lining banana boxes with newspapers to helping train student volunteers.

        And he doesn't head for the rocking chair when that work is done. He's too busy preparing for his other volunteer jobs.

        In 1994, less than two years after retiring from Cincinnati Gas and Electric (now Cinergy) where he was a senior maintenance man, Mr. Sorrell became a weekly helper in the Middletown Regional Hospital's Patient Services Department.

        “I just run errands. I'm a gofer — go for this, go for that,” Mr. Sorrell said, laughing. “I like it. I enjoy helping.”

        Every week, he also cleans the gymnasium and entranceway at this church, Springhill Church of Christ in Middletown, a chore he and other members do to avoid the cost of a janitor.

SHARED HARVEST
        Mr. Sorrell won the Cincinnati United Way Northern Division's Volunteer of the Year, or Angel, Award, in 2001 after being nominated by Shared Harvest.

    Located at 5901 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, is part of America's Second Harvest, a national network of food banks. It collects food from local producers, area food drives, national chains and the U.S. government to distribute to non-profit agencies.
    Non-profit organizations may call 1-800-352-3663 or visit the Web site, www.sharedharvest.org. People interested in volunteering should call the 800 number or 874-0114 and ask to speak to Dean Bowman.

        He's a “wonderful” volunteer, who doesn't mind coming in early and staying late when he's needed, said Dean Bowman, Shared Harvest volunteer coordinator. “He's a treasure. He's just there when I need him. He doesn't care what I need done, he'll do it. He knows all the jobs. He works very hard , and he never complains.

        Shared Harvest distributes food to any non-profit organization, including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, Head Start programs and Meals-on-Wheels, in 30 Ohio counties and Lawrence County, Ind. It distributed 8.5 million pounds of food last year, reaching an estimated 17,000 families monthly.

        “I've been blessed, and I wanted to help others,” said Mr. Sorrell, adding that his wife, Phyllis, is supportive of his volunteer work. “When I help others, I'm blessed, too. It's wonderful to be able to reach out and help people do things they can't do for themselves. And the volunteer coordinators make you feel so special. They always thank you for coming, and let you know your work is appreciated.”

        Do you know a Hometown Hero — someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at jjwetzel@siscom.net or fax to 513-755-4150.

       



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