‘God-sent man’ helps out as best he can at center

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 4, 2000

&uot;I don’t do a lot,&uot; Noel Smith says shyly when asked about the volunteer work he does for the Natchez Senior Center.

But don’t let Smith’s modesty fool you. &uot;Mr. Smith does everything around here,&uot; says Bryan Wolcott, secretary of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP).

Smith, one of the 400 volunteers of the program, devotes most of his weekdays helping others.

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&uot;I get up at 4 a.m.,&uot; Smith says with a smile. &uot;I spend an hour-and- a-half praying and 40 minutes exercising. The rest of the time is spent getting ready to go.&uot;

And ready to go he is. He’s at the center at 8 a.m. each day.

&uot;If somebody drops a cane, I pick it up. Whatever comes up, if I can help, I help,&uot; Smith says.

Adult-daycare senior Andrew Chatman calls Smith &uot;a God-sent man.&uot; Over the past year Chatman, who is completely blind, has relied on Smith to help and guide him.

Assisting disabled seniors is only one of the many ways Smith volunteers. Pouring ceramic molds for the adult-daycare arts and crafts, delivering lunches to homebound seniors, calling bingo games at nursing homes, visiting hospital patients and taking people to Jackson for medical appointments are also in Smith’s daily routine.

In fact, Smith does so much volunteer work that he has to keep a calendar with him to keep track. With the exception of an occasional haircut appointment, Smith’s calendar is filled with nothing but volunteer work.

&uot;Mr. Smith has got to be one of the most energetic volunteers I have,&uot; says Janet McNeely, director of the Natchez RSVP program.

Every Thursday morning Smith prepares for the weekly Bible study at the Senior Center. He goes to the classroom, gets out the large-print Bibles, places them on the table and makes sure that they are opened to the week’s Scripture.

When the preacher scheduled to lead the Bible study is unable to attend, Smith is left to lead the study group. He reluctantly assumes the responsibility saying, &uot;I wasn’t meant to be a leader.&uot;

&uot;I believe in spiritual gifts,&uot; Smith says. He elaborates saying that he believes everyone is endowed with such gifts. Then he says with confidence, &uot;My spiritual gift is serving and that is what I am doing.&uot;