Former councilman bent on volunteering

There’s not much grass growing under Randy Wilson’s feet these days. The former Marietta councilman and manager at The Gallery in Grand Central Mall spends a lot of time in a variety of volunteer efforts, including the Marietta Noon Lions Club, the Journey Church in the Odyssey Theater and Kairos International prison ministries.

Question: Some people have difficulty finding time to volunteer for one organization, but you volunteer for at least three. Why?

Answer: I just like to help out. My dad, Bob Wilson, passed away when he was 52 years old and I was in my last year of college. But growing up I always saw him volunteering with the Civitan Club and also for his church. He was my mentor. So I guess I’m just bent that way.

Q: One of your main volunteer efforts is with the Marietta Noon Lions Club.

A: I like the amount of community service they do. Especially their eyeglasses and eye exam programs. They provide eyeglasses, exams, and even leader dogs for people who can’t afford them. I’ve had some eye problems in the past and I’m glad I could afford to have them taken care of, but the Lions Clubs help provide those services for people who are in need.

Q: What volunteer services do you provide for the Noon Lions?

A: I try to volunteer as often as I can to work on the club’s food trailer and other fundraisers that raise money for the eyeglasses program and other community efforts like the local high school scholarships program.

Q: You also volunteer at church?

A: Yes. I help out with the sound system equipment for the Journey Church that’s held in the Odyessy Theater. We start setting up the sound in one of the theaters at 7:30 a.m., and services begin at 9:30 a.m. Then we have to tear it all down before noon when the theater opens to the public. I’ve been helping there for about two years now.

Q: What is Kairos International?

A: It’s an international ministry to prison inmates. Our local team of about 20 goes to the St. Marys Correctional Center in St. Marys, W.Va. twice a year, usually in May and October, for a three-day weekend. I often tell people I’m going to prison for the weekend and they just laugh.

Q: Do you require special training to take part in a prison ministry?

A: Yes. We receive about six weeks of training. There are certain things you can or cannot do when entering a prison, and you have to be familiar with the prison rules. The authorities also perform background checks on all of us before we can go in. But volunteering with the ministry is very rewarding. And when we get back from a weekend at the prison I’m pumped up for the next week.

Q: What do you do there?

A: We always tell members of the team to bring about 70 dozen cookies each. There are 600-some inmates, and we try to give each group a bag of cookies. We also feed them all three days, so they get to eat homemade meals for three days.

Q: What response do you get from the inmates?

A: Some are receptive to us, some are not so receptive, but the prison officials, including the regional and state wardens, appreciate us for going there because they know the ministry can help change the inmates’ lives. It can be a very moving experience.

Q: What would you tell someone thinking about becoming a volunteer?

A: Try it. I’ve met people that I would have never come to know except through working with them as volunteers. You get to know a lot of good people. But you have to volunteer because you want to do it, not for notoriety, but just to serve.

Sam Shawver conducted this interview.