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Local charity hopes 88-year-old inspires more people of color to volunteer

Person of the Week: Interfaith Alliance Ministry Tuesday crew
Members of Interfaith Alliance Ministry's Tuesday crew are the News 13 Persons of the Week. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The volume of food at Interfaith Alliance Ministry speaks to the need and an outpouring of generosity. Meanwhile, the devotion of volunteers speaks volumes about the need to give back. Sometimes, that happens later in life.

Tuesday mornings include some fun-loving and hardworking characters, including volunteers Ray Cook and Emery Schneider, who work in the pantry every week.

"We care for them. And it's good on your heart when you're caring for people like that," Cook explained.

"It gives me a very good idea of what the people of Hendersonville are all about," Emery said.

Executive Director Elizabeth Moss said the good vibes on Tuesdays help spur the mission to provide food, rental assistance and more.

"And it is such a fantastic feeling to give back. And I see that in the joy, especially this Tuesday team has!" Moss said.

One fellow volunteer leads by life experience.

Walter Mills, 88, started volunteering there 22 years ago after retiring from the old Steelcase office furniture factory.

"It's good exercise for me because if I didn't, well, I would just be sitting around home not doing that much," Mills said. "And I'll put it this way, as long as you stay active and doing work like that, I think you live longer."

Cook, Schneider, Mills and the whole Tuesday crew are the News 13 Persons of the Week.

Moss appreciates the Tuesday crew and every other volunteer who pitches in. But she also hopes people of color see Mills' example and give back, because diversity helps build community trust.

"So, we feel the more diverse we become, the better," Moss said.

The ministry threw Mills a surprise party to celebrate his 88th birthday.

"Walter's a good leader," Cook said.

At the end of every shift, the tally of the food the crew members have handled makes them proud. This past Tuesday, it was about 10 tons.