Rick Morgan has gone full circle, from a youth involved in the air cadets and boy scouts to supporting the same youth programs as a member of the Kiwanis Club of Timmins.
Morgan has been a lifelong volunteer, starting off with the Jaycee Club (United States Junior Chamber) before joining the Kiwanis Club of Timmins with his wife in the 1980s.
The mission with Kiwanis was for the good of all children in Timmins, but also deeply personal: both his sons had Duchene muscular dystrophy. This severe type of muscular dystrophy is passed among male offspring, and involves weakness and muscle loss in the thighs, pelvis, and arms. Both of his sons passed from the disease in 1979.
As the saying on grief goes, you will not get over the loss of a loved one, you learn to live with it — this is exactly what Morgan has been doing ever since his wife and two sons passed away, eight years and 43 years ago, respectively.
Morgan has devoted a huge part of his life to volunteering with two organizations, the Kiwanis Club of Timmins and the Timmins Food Bank. Morgan says he felt the need to give back to the community after his own sons and family were supported by the Kiwanis Club of Timmins and the Easter Seals.
Morgan’s routine is simple. He gets up in the morning, prepares a simple breakfast, drives to the food bank and helps his fellow volunteers stack the donated goods on the shelves. At noon, he drives home, watches his favourite Westerns, plays crossword puzzles, and reads Reader's Digest and science fiction.
Tuesdays, he meets his fellow Kiwanis Club board members at Siva’s.
Morgan admitted that no one can get over grief, you just live with it, and keep going — he kept going by giving back to the community.
“Volunteering for (the) food bank gives me a reason to get up every morning,” he said.
One of his favourite parts of his volunteer roles is the Kiwanis's cotton candy machine.
It often makes an appearance at Timmins events and Morgan enjoys handing out cotton candy to the kids. He mentions with a smile that he sometimes has to ask kids “have I seen you before?” as they often come back over and over again for some cotton candy and he needs to cut them off, for their parent’s sake.
Lately, he feels like events are losing momentum.
“When I come home from the food bank, very often that I’m tired…often when I come home from there I feel drowsy,” he said.
Morgan said during March break, his niece, Morgan, volunteered at the food bank and Kiwanis, doing what he normally does, lifting crates of milk to the top shelves, washing the floor, and doing anything that needed to be done.
He said there is a pressing concern among his fellow long-time volunteers that no one will continue the advocacy they started.
He is also afraid that the Kiwanis Club in Timmins may not be around in five years, given the dwindling numbers of individuals joining the club. He said currently, they only have 10 members, and not all of them are active.
“Now our members decline severely,” he admitted.
Other organizations are struggling as well.
“If you will visit these organizations, you will see that everybody working there are 70 years old…one of the key people can’t do the job anymore. There are no young trainees coming to take their spot,” he said.
Morgan lamented that if no one is willing to fill in their position, these organizations will soon be gone.
He's calling on Timmins residents to get involved and volunteer to these organizations to keep the “sense of community” and support alive.
Morgan said volunteerism is the kind of work that gives you self-satisfaction and fulfillment especially knowing that you can help other people.
“The best thing is if you can help kids that are sick,” he said.
Right now, he said, the future of these organizations is unknown, but he hopes that bringing his niece to help out will somehow encourage her to continue what he is doing for the community.
For more information about Kiwanis, email email@example.com or visit the Kiwanis Club of Timmins Facebook page.