Volunteer work fills gap after retirement

Meals on Wheels Driver Tom Doyle

Meals on Wheels Driver Tom Doyle

After his 2006 retirement from his mail route with the United States Postal Service, Tom Doyle’s wife, Lois, soon became a “volunteer widow.”

Ready for a new adventure “doing anything,” Doyle began volunteering for Meals on Wheels. He also currently serves on the board of directors for The Women’s Help Center, a crisis pregnancy facility, and for Hurley Manor, a retirement community near the Jacksonville University campus, and also serves as well on the steering committee for the St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store on Beach Boulevard.

“After I retired from the U.S. Post Office in January 2006, I walked the street and looked after the people on my route,” Doyle recalled. “I’d been on the same route for over 20 years and saw little kids grow up and come back and show me their little kids.

“All those years of service to my community aimed me in the right direction, because after I retired and had hung around on the couch for about a month and a half, I had the itch to do something, ANYTHING,” he said. “I am 70 years old and have been blessed with a great family and good health. We all need to be thankful to God for all our blessings and to pass on those blessings to those less fortunate.”

Doyle got his start with the Aging True Meals on Wheels program when a friend, the local coordinator for Meals on Wheels, asked if he would like to be a volunteer.

“A few years later, she wanted to retire and I was left to take over the route,” he said, adding that he has delivered hot meals to shut-in seniors on the Southside for more than 11 years and has been coordinator for his “5-B Trinity” route for the past eight years.

“The Meals on Wheels people we serve are not our clients but our neighbors,” Doyle said. “If your neighbor would come to your door asking for a cup of sugar or flour, would you turn them down? To some of these people we are the only ones they see each day, and we are their only contact with the outside world. We need to keep an eye on them and offer them our attention, service and help.”