Volunteering as a way of life

Carl Boyd volunteers seven days a week. Yes, the entire week. He says that for him, it’s part of his human nature to help.

Boyd, who recent turned 77, began volunteering at his church, Janes United Methodist, in 1976 by helping build a day care center. Before he knew it, he was working at the church’s soup kitchen two-to-three nights a week.

“Once the bug bit me, it just caught on, it was a no brainer,” said Boyd.

Boyd is a native of West Virginia, and after attending college he began a career in the medical research field in Philadelphia. He has lived with his wife Selba in Awbury Park area since the late 1960’s. He mainly volunteers as a food pick-up and delivery driver for soup kitchens in Germantown and West Oak Lane.

A regular day for Boyd starts at 5 a.m. and he travels to grocery stores who donate the produce, breads and meats that they haven’t sold or are near-to expiration.

The trip is not an easy one, with some donation centers ranging from Queens Lane to Flourtown. With an aging vehicle in tow, all of his fuel expenses are paid out-of-pocket.

Although he is now retired, he has been volunteering for over 35 years. Doing this kind of work every day is something that he is not only compelled to do, but dedicated to.

“I feel the same responsibility that I had towards my job,” said Boyd, “these individuals are depending on me.”

The people who are participating in the soup kitchen programs come from all walks of life and Boyd has heard their experiences firsthand.

“There are single parents, children, elderly, veterans, mentally challenged – all types of people that need our help,” said Boyd. “They think society has forgotten about them, and they start to lose their perspective on life.”

Boyd says it’s shocking how many veterans are in need.

“One of the saddest things you encounter when you talk to some of these individuals is that they’ve had to abandon family members and loved ones because of health and mental problems brought on by war,” said Boyd. “War is one of the things that destroys mind and body, and they aren’t able to recoup after it.”

The holiday season is just one time out of 365 days a year when soup kitchens need volunteers.

Boyd hopes to encourage people to volunteer. He says that whatever amount of time that they can give will go a long way.

“We are flexible,” said Boyd. “One day a week for an hour makes such an impact. People don’t realize how much good they can do with just a little effort.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.