The almost 10,000 volunteer hours tallied together by two tall, humble men with easy smiles adds up to more than 2.25 years each without pay in the workforce.
Both Rolex Jones of Rogersville and Lynn Parker of Church Hill retired from Eastman, and have dedicated much of their retirement time to assist Of One Accord, whose mission is to serve those in need in Hawkins and Hancock counties.
Of One Accord was started in 1988 by Sheldon Livesay, founder and executive director. He speaks highly of Jones and Parker, "They are two of the most outstanding volunteers in Hawkins County. Volunteering with the organization Of One Accord is more than a job and more than just a place to spend time because there are many numbers of repeated faces. Every face represents a family in struggle and our hearts go out to those who are hurting. Both Rolex and Lynn are very dependable."
Debbie Tapp, office manager for Of One Accord, agrees, "Rolex is one of the most amazing volunteers that we have. He is very dedicated, rain or shine... just like the postman." And, "Lynn is an awesome Christian man who is an inspiration to all and is always willing to serve."
Jones had intended to volunteer immediately upon his retirement but laughs when stating, "I had promised GOD that I would volunteer after I retired. After a while of being deep down in my couch, I knew that it was time to fulfill my promise." And, with that commitment, he has never looked back and has helped so many.
On his very first day with Of One Accord, Jones found that helping those less fortunate was more rewarding to him than perhaps it was to the recipient.
"Love tears down walls. You think you are helping people but they are actually helping you," he humbly shares. Jones proved immediately that he had found his niche in the volunteer world when he was recognized for his innate ability to talk with the customers and pray for and with them. Through a monthly interviewing process, Jones updates the file on each person served. He gets connected with the customers and believes, "There is a physical need and a spiritual need for each and I am more concerned about the spiritual because that will take you further than the physical."
Lynn Parker learned much of his community servitude from working at Eastman, where a sense of community engagement is promoted. The former Hawkins County commissioner spearheaded the opening of the Emergency Services Food Pantry in Church Hill and continues to contribute to the success of its existence.
"We have never turned anyone away," Parker said. However, it does take many helping hands to be able to meet the needs. "Most of our volunteers come from churches of all denominations. I suspect I could go to my church right now and get a dozen volunteers if we needed them," he said.
A volunteer since 1998, Parker is very thankful for the business community spirit that supports the pantries and reveals that for the Church Hill pantry, "The primary food source comes from two places: Food Lion and Second Harvest. Other donations come from cash donations, the Relay Against Hunger campaign and church initiatives. Private collections are held as well and the Boy Scouts collected 10,000 pounds last November." Wal-Mart, Food City and Super Dollar are the primary donors in Rogersville.
There are many opportunities to volunteer including food distribution in the pantries, sorting items for the thrift shop, serving in the medical clinic and delivering home cooked meals on top of all the community projects. Rolex Jones and Lynn Parker are grateful to be making a difference in their community and for all the efforts of Sheldon Livesay and his vision.
"Sheldon is the most unselfish person I have ever met," Parker said. However, without volunteers like Jones and Parker, that vision would be hard to realize.
Of One Accord ministry is an umbrella for The Shepherd’s Center in Rogersville, The Shepherd’s Corner in Sneedville, the Emergency Services Food Pantry in Church Hill and the Church Hill Free Medical Clinic. To learn more about Of One Accord or how you may volunteer or donate, please call 423-921-8044 or visit www.ofoneaccordministry.org.
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