Volunteering gives Jeff Provo a chance to change people's lives.
Since retiring from Inland Steel in 2004, he's answered the call to service by becoming a volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana. Once a week he delivers nutritious meals to clients in the Miller area of Gary. He's scheduled on Thursdays, but is available for other days if they need help.
The recipient of two Presidential Volunteer Service awards for his work with MOW, Provo picks up food at Miller Terrace for his 14 to 15 clients. Each receives a hot meal and a small bag that might contain a carton of milk, a container of juice or fruit, and an evening snack, depending on their dietary restrictions.
Delivery takes about an hour to complete, but there are times when Provo might take longer, if he stays to talk or help out a client. One man on his route is 99 and still loves to garden.
So once in the spring and again in the fall, Provo takes him a truck load of manure for his garden and dumps it in the yard. The elderly gardener appreciates the help, but he takes it from there, painstakingly working the manure into the soil.
Provo also helps out Nazareth Home in East Chicago on Mondays. He's scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., but often goes in early. As a "cuddler," he plays with the children, rocks or feeds them. 'I do everything a parent would do," he said.
Provo also is a handyman for the licensed foster home that provides individualized, 24-hour per day care for medically compromised children who are referred by the Department of Child Services. The mission of Nazareth Home is to care for poor and powerless infants and children, those unable to speak for themselves, by providing them with a loving, caring and stable beginning.
"I love volunteering," Provo said. "It just gives you a good feeling."
Provo found that out in a big way in 2005, when he took a trip with a church group to build a school in the Dominican Republic. "That's what changed my life", he said. "When I saw how those people live and the way they act, they are so friendly and smile all the time. You give a kid a pencil and you would think you have given them a hundred dollar bill."
Provo hopes to return to the Dominican Republic in January.
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