101-year-old volunteer meals on wheels, Edward Kydd has traveled 13,332 miles in 1,742 hours of service for Meals on Wheels.
The Rockledge, Fla., man drives two routes every Monday, accompanied by his traveling companion — his 73-year-old daughter, Janet von Berg.
Kydd is 101, by the way.
And he might just be the poster child — OK, poster centenarian — for the mantra “Engage at every age,” the 2018 theme of Older Americans Month. For many seniors, the opportunity to engage comes daily through volunteering — and age is no barrier to their efforts.
“I think the reason I’m going to be 102 in July is because I’ve stayed active,” said Kydd.
There’s a place for any volunteer, said Pastor David Rosenbaum of Redeemer Lutheran Church. He’s chairman of Brevard VOAD, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
“If they have the strength and willingness to serve, it doesn’t matter what age they are — there’s always a place they can make a positive difference,” Rosenbaum said. “In the back office, doing paperwork. Encouraging. Offering emotional support. Sharing their experiences. Offering love that’s sorely missing in our society and much more.”
The importance of Meals on Wheels volunteers “cannot be overstated,” said Linda Wells, who oversees the program administered by Aging Matters in Brevard.
Since January 2018, Meals on Wheels volunteers have delivered 79,403 meals to 1,014 homebound seniors in Brevard County, Wells said.
As local not-for-profit organizations are asked to do more and more for the community, “we all stretch our capacity through volunteers,” said Rob Rains, president of United Way of Brevard.
“I think of Helen Keller and her famous quote: Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” he said.
United Way offers volunteer matching online at uwbrevard.org to help community members connect with organizations, Rains said. Current needs include reading mentors for the summer and STEM volunteers to help connect kids with science and math.
And Kydd is far from the only older person volunteering his time. Kaye Koines, 86, has had a profound effect on countless Brevard Public Schools students through Rolling Readers, a volunteer literacy organization focused on children.
The former mental health worker retired to Brevard from New York in 1991.
“I wanted to give something back, not just sit around and have fun,” said Koines, a Cocoa Beach resident who’s also a Keep Brevard Beautiful volunteer.
After first volunteering for MADD, Koines saw a newspaper ad for Rolling Readers, a brand-new organization at that time. The Pennsylvania native had loved reading since childhood.
“I thought, ‘That’s a wonderful idea … I like to be with children,” said Koines, the mother of three, grandmother of six and a great-grandmother, too.
Almost 21 years later, she reads every Friday during the school year to first-graders at Cape View Elementary School.
And John Anderson won’t let an age assigned him by the year of his birth — 1926 — get in the way of being active in his community.
There’s his “Great Decisions” discussion group, centered on global issues, which he leads once a month on Merritt Island. The retired nurse anesthetist is bullish on education, too, and promoting the good works of area young people.
And he’s a big supporter of the Central Brevard Sharing Center, where he helps coordinate holiday activities involving high-school students.
When Anderson turned 90, his one request was that those attending his birthday party bring canned goods rather than gifts.
“I get personal satisfaction out of helping people and doing something meaningful in the community,” said Anderson, past head of Brevard’s Republican Party.
“You don’t want to get to a state where you feel you’re useless.”