BakerRipley is fortunate to have volunteers like Richard Kummins and Ora Scott, who care so deeply about Houston and their communities.
Without the help of all our volunteers, we couldn’t support the half a million Houstonians we serve. These are amazing people who spring into action when they see neighbors in need.
We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of their work in recognition of volunteer appreciation month in April.
Meet Richard; he’s originally from New York and a real people person. He’s been volunteering at the BakerRipley Tax Centers for eight years now. He loves guiding people working the intake desk, and, as he puts it, he gets to practice a little Spanish.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have people come in and get their taxes done right and all for free. They don’t get ripped off by these shops that open up around tax time promising huge returns – unfortunately, we see a lot of these fraudulent returns, and they have to come to us and get it fixed,” explains Richard.
Delivering food to Houston seniors
While the Tax Centers are closed during the COVID-19 outbreak, the need for basic necessities in our communities has significantly increased.
Our senior population, for example, is suffering from isolation and food insecurity. In response, BakerRipley staff and campus volunteers have been delivering food to seniors in our communities. For Richard, it’s an incredibly gratifying experience.
“You wouldn’t believe some of the homes that these folks live in. I mean, it’s a disgrace that in this rich country people live in such run-down places, and there’s very little public assistance,”
Looking ahead, Richard is hopeful, but he worries about undocumented workers.
“People who work hard, washing dishes, cleaning hotels, cleaning homes, construction jobs – what are they’re going to do?”
Regardless of what happens, he’s always ready to help out whatever the need may be.
“The reason I love volunteering is that the people involved are great; we’re really helping the community.”
Ora and volunteering go way back. As a child, she would go with her mother and sister to volunteer at church and other non-profit organizations.
As an adult, she continued volunteering at the American Heart Association and as part of the BakerRipley Senior Services telephone outreach program for a few years.
“My passion is helping others. I especially love helping the elderly. I always get a feeling of joy when I’m around them,”
After retiring in 2016, Ora wanted to find new ways to keep busy, and she decided to get involved in other programs – including the BakerRipley Houston Turkey Trot.
In normal circumstances, she helps out at the BakerRipley Gulfton Sharpstown Campus with birthday celebrations for seniors, food fairs and health fairs as well.
I just couldn’t sit by
While our centers remain mostly closed, Ora has been delivering food to the seniors in our community.
“It’s in my heart to help others, so I couldn’t just sit by with this coronavirus and not help. I just couldn’t do that.
Ora explains that many seniors in our communities need a little extra help — many of them might live alone.
“I’m a senior citizen, and I’m on a budget – most of us in the community are on a budget and don’t have that extra income for unforeseen situations like COVID-19. We might not have a lot saved up or are alone and don’t have a family to help us.”
For Ora, these services are vital and helpful to the community.
“The people are very humble and appreciative.”