Oakwood Acres’ Bobby Grose Finds Reward in Food Pantry Volunteer Work
Bobby Grose’s desire to work and give back to his community is undeniable.
Retirement may have closed one door for Grose, but it allowed him the opportunity to extend his volunteer service within his community. Passionately speaking about his volunteer service, it is visible how important it is to Grose to somehow, some way give back.
Grose, who resides at the Oakwood Acres group residence in Randolph County, was employed within a vocational workshop for about 34 years before retiring this past March. Without the workshop opportunity and newly retired, Grose felt there was a void to fill.
Grose, 54, would leave the vocational workshop and go straight to his volunteer role. “That is how important his volunteer work is to him,” notes Residential Development Specialist Betty McDowell, who works one-on-one with Grose. “Bobby loves being part of the community. He likes to have fun, as well as talk to and ask people questions.”
For the past two years, Grose, along with McDowell, volunteers at Asheboro’s Christians United Outreach Center’s (CUOC) food pantry. Randolph County’s CUOC assists the working poor, temporarily unemployed, disabled and elderly. It is a collaborative, urban ministry of area churches with the CUOC providing furniture, household items, clothing, appliances and financial assistance to those in need.
Grose volunteers at CUOC three days a week for three-hour shifts, making boxes so it easier for families to carry out canned goods. McDowell explains that Grose is a pro at constructing the boxes that help make the food pantry run smoothly, assembling about 200 during each shift. McDowell has even given him the nickname, the Box Man, which makes Grose smile wide while giving two thumbs-up.
Grose has found a role that is especially rewarding to him and, even better, one that he looks forward to attending. “My favorite part is building the boxes,” he says proudly.
McDowell explains that Grose is quite popular at CUOC and has made friends with many stopping by to chat or say hello during his shifts. “They love him at the CUOC because Bobby is dependable. He would go every day if he could.” McDowell adds. “His smile and friendly nature make Grose a perfect fit for volunteering.” “The ladies love me,” Grose says of his CUOC friends.
CUOC’s Programs Administrator Stephanie Wright, who oversees the volunteers, says Grose’s joy is contagious and when he happens to miss one of his days, many stop to ask about him. “Bobby comes in every day with a smile on his face,” Wright says. “I think everybody in our building can attest that Bobby brightens their day!”
She added that his efforts, and that of McDowell’s, in helping the CUOC run smoothly is appreciated. “Bobby is so happy to be here and happy to contribute,” she adds. “He makes an impact on people by being who he is. He makes such a huge impact by being Bobby – caring and compassionate.”
The Oakwood Acres staff has seen firsthand how being active in the community has prompted positive changes in Grose. McDowell believes that Grose’s involvement in the community has improved his physical and mental health. “He is so glad to see people. He makes an impression on the people he meets,” she notes.
With this newfound zest, Grose has become a familiar face at the local YMCA. He works out weekly with McDowell, who guides him in learning correct use of the weight machines and exercises to help him become stronger. “I don’t like to stay in one place,” Grose admits.
While Grose is now creating new memories at CUOC, he fondly recalls his vocational workshop role.
“We used to assemble manual books for products. A while back, we used to put the batteries in a tray a certain way before being packaged and sealed,” he explains. Grose’s father was one of those responsible for starting the vocational workshop.
Even though arthritis and a few other health ailments have slowed Grose a bit, he would love to add another volunteer role. “He definitely wants to pursue a morning volunteer opportunity to make his day fuller,” McDowell explains.