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  • Krista Allen

Weatherford man encourages retirees to help community

One of the greatest gifts you can give a community is the donation of your time. Weatherford resident Paul Monk has given his community a bit of each day, with selflessness and compassion, for over a decade.

Paul, 72, grew up in Borger, just outside of Amarillo. He said his upbringing played a large role in the man he is today.

“My dad was one of those that if someone needed help, you give it,” said Paul “He basically pushed that on us – to always help your fellow man. We never had a lot of money, which was good, probably, because I always realized that money is not important. And, that is one of my driving principles – money doesn’t mean anything.”

Paul was a linguist during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. It was his job to communicate between the U.S soldiers and Civil Affairs. He said it was one of the greatest experiences of his lifetime, teaching and learning from so many people and being exposed to diverse cultural views.

When he returned stateside, he served in the Armed Guard while working at Lockheed Martin. He also met the love of his life, Deborah, and had three daughters.

Tragedy struck in 2012 when Deborah passed away and Paul, who’d recently retired, had to find a new purpose in life.

“I find most of the people who are retired either love it or hate it,” he said. “If they have something to do, they love it. If they have nothing to do, they hate it.”

So Paul decided to volunteer. He started small, just delivering Meals On Wheels, but then the list grew with each need he encountered.

Currently, he volunteers with GriefShare out of South Main Church of Christ, Dementia In Perspective, The American Legion, and Knights of Columbus, in addition to Meals On Wheels.

Paul also joined the Citizens Police Alumni Association.

“We do traffic for all the football games, all the parades, anything in the square, a lot of stuff at Heritage Park, such as Christmas in the Park,” he said.

He’s also involved with Dementia Group Connect Camp.

“You’re basically giving caregivers a chance to go get a breath,” he explained. “Most of the caregivers are siblings or parents or it’s the children of the parents or siblings of these individuals, so they’re with them 24/7. Thus, a three hour break every couple of weeks really helps.”

The impression that Paul wants to leave is that life doesn’t end when you retire – living is a choice.

“One of my goals is to help people 50 and above to realize there is life outside of the home. For lack of a better word, get out and do stuff,” he said. “You can always find something to do, you don’t have to hide in the house once you retire.”

He knows that giving a little bit of his time can go a long way and plans to continue volunteering until his health no longer allows because benevolence is contagious.

“People tell me so many things that they probably would never tell anybody else,” he said. “Just allowing people to get things off their chest is uplifting.

“The idea that I can help somebody, that makes me happy,” he added. “Because truthfully, there is so much sadness and negativity in the world today. Something needs to change.

“If I can make a difference, I will. If I can make one person smile a day, I’ve done my job.”

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