“It is the best three hours of my week,” says James Barclay, who, after 34 years with the Dallas Police Department, found a different way to serve the Oak Cliff community in his retirement.
James helps with lunches for members of The Well Community every Tuesday. Each week he stands at the door and shakes hands with members who deal with severe mental illnesses. “They always light up when you say their name and smile at them. Some of them have the greatest smiles, but no one knows it because no one takes the time to acknowledge them.”
During his years in law enforcement in southern Dallas, James saw many people who were in need of resources and meals, but neglected by the community. Through his church, Cliff Temple Baptist, he heard about The Well Community and decided years ago that when he retired he would start volunteering. “There was and is nothing like it around. It is hands-on and a place for personal relationships with the members.” Although his church has a number of outreach ministries, James sees its involvement with The Well as an opportunity to meet a critical and urgent need. “It is the most important ministry the church has and as a part of the community, I see its effects everywhere,” he says.
James has missed only two Tuesdays in his three years volunteering and talks highly of the people serving beside him. “Ericka, the program manager, does an amazing job at making the budget stretch to cook a hot meal every day for 30-plus people. Her heart is incredible.”
Volunteering at The Well Community has given James a powerful way to have a positive impact on the members. “With only three hours a week, you can make a pretty big difference in somebody’s life.” He also sees that being at The Well has had a powerful impact on him as well. “My time here is as therapeutic for me as it is for the members.”
Even after his three years at The Well, James says his favorite part of the day is still seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces when he greets them. “You never know when was the last time they had a positive interaction with a human. Not only are they getting food, they’re getting a safe place where they can socialize with like-minded people.”
There are always opportunities help out and connect with members of the Well Community. Along with James, last year volunteers gave 2,900 hours of service at The Well. Contact us to learn how, in just three hours, you also could, “make a pretty big difference in somebody’s life.”
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