It does not matter where you are from or what you have done, if you have a story to tell, Edythe Davis will listen.
Davis, 80, has been volunteering at the Union County Community Shelter for about two years, after moving to Monroe from New Jersey.
“There’s not that much difference in people, just their circumstances,” Davis said. “You’d be surprised. I learned about people, human beings ... you just listen.”
Initially, Davis volunteered five days a week, now she volunteers about three or four days a week. She started as a reception volunteer and now runs the food pantry, which, thanks to her kindness with the food boxes for families, needs to be restocked.
“Her intelligence, her compassion, her willingness to serve ... it’s far beyond words,” Kathy Bragg, executive director of the Union County Community Shelter, said.
Bragg said Davis has probably saved the shelter about $50,000 in staffing costs through her volunteer efforts and that she is just as much a part of their team as any paid staff member.
SEE ADVICE/PAGE A11
“She is like the grandmother of the shelter,” Jewel Richey, community programs manager, said. “She has such a big heart.”
She said Davis showers the clients of the shelter with love and compassion, free of judgment.
“Her words of wisdom are priceless,” Richey said.
Bragg remembers a time when Davis was sick and could not come volunteer for a month or so.
“It was a huge void for us to fill,” Bragg said.
Davis was a licensed practical nurse in New Jersey before retiring and some of the skills she learned as a nurse have come in handy at the shelter. She recalled one client who was being treated for cancer and complained that his medication was making him sick. Davis looked at the medicine and realized that he was not eating at the right time before taking the pills. She advised that he be able to snack all day and her advice helped him.
Davis found the shelter through her church, Watts Grove Missionary Baptist Church. She was amazed by the program and the shelter when she first visited.
“Seeing the shelter, it was just an awesomeness,” Davis said. “Every day it was just amazing.”
She liked how the shelter took care of “the total person.”
“Nothing about the person is neglected,” Davis said. She added that she has never seen a shelter like it. “I think I’m impressed with the way they handle people who come here as human beings.”
Davis cannot describe the feeling she gets from her volunteer work.
“I wish I could describe it...whatever it is, it keeps me coming back every day,” she said.
She said she would miss the people if she stopped coming. She remembers one client who was a trained chef and was hired to a job in Texas from the shelter.
“You get a different insight (from people),” she said. “Even lunch clients. You get to know them because they’re special, too.”
She also appreciates the way the county supports the shelter.
“I think that’s what keeps me going,” she said.
As nonprofit organizations across the county celebrated volunteer appreciation week last week, staff at the shelter are thankful for Davis.
“We need more Miss Edythes,” Richey said.