Senior Center volunteer photo Donnie Bennett

 vol-un-teer - a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.

He walked in and sat down quietly. Looking friendly, like your next door neighbor.  He did not know why he had been asked to come into the office, but he appeared ready for just about anything.  His name is Donnie Bennett.  He began answering questions with a naturally genuine approach. 

Donnie is a volunteer with Meals on Wheels Hood County. He and his wife, Debbie, moved here from a little town in West Texas. Soon after, she suggested that they find something to keep them busy.  Debbie once directed Meals on Wheels in Andrews, Texas, so Meals on Wheels seemed like the perfect place for them to plug in. Donnie and Debbie began delivering meals here about five years ago; they also volunteer at the Opera Guild. Debbie’s schedule eventually would not allow her to continue volunteering, leaving Donnie to do the Gee Route by himself every Monday, giving up more than three hours of his time and 45 miles on his car. 

When asked what he loves most about delivering meals Donnie said, “It makes your day knowing that you are making them happy.”

He went on to say, “Everybody is so appreciative and almost every one of them thanks me every day.”

“It’s all about the people,” Donnie said. “Every day before I leave each home, I ask if there is anything that I can do for them.” He expressed that he would sincerely do anything that he could to help his clients.

Trying to think of a specific story, the corners of his mouth slowly created a grin.  He thought of a woman that he used to deliver meals to on his route. At that time, Debbie was still helping him deliver and pointed out that he should be the one to take the meal inside because this woman “liked” him. Donnie said that she would smile almost as if she was flirting with him a little bit.  It made him feel good.

This past year of unprecedented times has affected our seniors in many ways. It has also changed just about everything we do at the Senior Center. 

When asked, Donnie was honest.  When it comes to the logistical changes, he sincerely stated, “I had a lot of doubts at first. A lot of doubts about how it was going to work. I have to be sure I get here early enough to be at the front of the line in order to finish my route by about 1 p.m.”

His route is a lengthy one, but he would not want to “give up” any of his clients, so he never complains. He also admitted that the new system of getting meals into the drivers’ vehicles does work out better than he thought it would. He stated that, “Not being able to go into each of the peoples’ homes and visit with them and having to wear a mask, seems so impersonal.”

Donnie looks forward to a time without masks where he can interact with the seniors on a more personal level again.  He mentioned that he and his wife received their first round of the COVID vaccine earlier this week.

Donnie had a 30-year career as a crude oil hauler driving a tanker truck from the tank battery to the pipeline in the West Texas oilfields. He retired just before moving to Granbury. Donnie and Debbie have a daughter who lives in the San Angelo area and they are looking forward to going for a visit. It is evident that they are a couple that shows love to others, especially seniors.  The Senior Center/Meals on Wheels is thankful for volunteers like Donnie.