Retiring, volunteering……and toilet paper?

At Coalition for the Homeless, we are so appreciative of our volunteers and the variety of tasks they do. Even simple errands, such as picking up toilet paper, are essential – especially when serving an average of 700 people a night! Every now and then we like to highlight one of our volunteers who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Jerry definitely falls into that category.

For Jerry, progressing from a fulfilling career into retirement meant he would finally have all the time he needed to relax, spend time with his wife, and —pick up toilet paper? Although spending one morning each week collecting partially-used rolls of bathroom tissue may not sound like the ideal retirement gig for many, this activity is a perfect fit for Jerry.

This quick-to-laugh Central Floridian and his wife Deborah became involved with the Coalition three years ago when a friend invited them to help serve a meal in one of the Coalition’s facilities. Seeing firsthand the hundreds of men, women and children staying at the shelter was enlightening for Jerry and Deb, who had never before realized the extent of the issue of homelessness in their community. Jerry knew right away he wanted to become more actively involved in addressing homelessness and contacted the Coalition to see how he could help.

“My initial response was apprehension when I came down and saw how vast the problem was,” Jerry remembers. “But by the end of the night, the guests here are so appreciative…that makes it all so worthwhile.”

In his several years of volunteer service, Jerry has done a bit of everything at the Coalition: filing papers, completing data entry, tackling seemingly-overwhelming administrative projects, and serving as volunteer staff with his wife at special events like Taste of the Nation and Hearts of Gold.

Jerry’s notoriety in volunteer service has stemmed from a dedication to making sure the Coalition stays fully-stocked with donated bathroom tissue. For the past few years, Jerry has faithfully made a weekly trip to eleven different locations within the labyrinth of Walt Disney World Resorts, collecting partially used rolls of toilet paper. He heads out from the Coalition every Monday morning, along with two other retirees, Al Scott and Skip Sewell, and available First Steps clients.

“Every guest who stays in a Disney hotel gets a fresh roll of toilet paper and a box of tissues,” Jerry explains. “But being the great stewards that they are, Disney makes sure the toilet paper doesn’t get thrown away…We just think it’s wonderful that they save it for us.”

From working in the administrative offices to collecting enough bathroom tissue for hundreds of people, Jerry continually proves he is invested in the Coalition’s mission of bringing the homeless back to self-sufficiency. We could not be more thankful and are glad Jerry and his wife believe they are not only giving something back to the community, but are also receiving something in return:

“The most rewarding part is just the sense that we are doing something to help and [collecting bathroom tissue] is something I can do,” Jerry explains with a smile. “And believe it or not, toilet paper is really important!”