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95-year-old volunteer - Jim Hodous

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  • texasjoe43
    95-year-old volunteer by Robert Stinson Published December 3, 2007 He s 95 years old, which gives him a pass if he seems a bit curmudgeonly. To hear him talk
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      95-year-old volunteer
      by Robert Stinson
      Published December 3, 2007

      He's 95 years old, which gives him a pass if he seems a bit
      curmudgeonly. To hear him talk you'd think Jim Hodous has been
      showing up at Sammons Community Center for nothing but his health.

      But the people at Sammons say he understates his value to the center.

      "We really look forward to him coming every day," said Lisa Potts,
      Sammons Center manager. "He always has interesting stories to tell
      and he always has a smile on his face and a hug for everybody. And
      he is truly dedicated."

      Hodous was playing pool Friday with friends, about an hour before he
      was due to help serve a turkey dinner to a packed dining room. His
      reasons for working as a volunteer are very specific, he said.

      "It's better than sitting around and watching the boob tube. It's
      great to have a good rapport with people - you can see what we're
      doing here," he added, motioning to his friends and the serious
      business of pool.

      Known as "the milkman" because he passes out milk to diners at the
      center, Hodous works five days a week, helping the cooks load plates
      with lunches, then rolling the food trays out on carts for diners,
      many of whom are seniors like himself. It is work that helps keep
      him healthy, he said.

      "You can't just sit around doing nothing. I exercise every day. I'm
      the kind of guy that looks out for my own health."

      Hodous looks out for No. 1, but Judy Pelzel, recreational specialist
      for the center, said he also has a special feeling for the people he
      helps at the facility.

      "They're like his family," she said. "He makes sure they get fed
      first and foremost, and then he will take care of himself."

      Hodous' early family life could have challenged anyone's will to
      think of others. With the holiday in full swing, he remembers some
      memorable Christmases as the youngest of six children growing up in
      Chicago.

      His father was an alcoholic, he said, who died when he was hit by a
      car on Christmas Eve. Hodous was a teenager.

      "He was going for a bottle of booze," Hodous said.

      Much earlier - Hodous was 6 - the youngster quit believing in Santa
      Claus when he saw his father filling his Christmas stocking with
      coal.

      "They used to call me `the brat,'" he said, now able to laugh.

      Through it all, Hodous believes his father was essentially a good
      person.

      "When I was a child, he was a good man," he said. "He worked, but he
      spent his money treating other guys in the saloon. He was a happy-go-
      lucky sort of guy."

      Christmas may not hold warm memories of sugarplum fairies and people
      caroling in the snow, but Potts said Hodous' actions demonstrate the
      spirit of the holiday - if not in name, certainly in deed.

      rstinson@...
      Copyright © 2007, Temple Daily Telegram
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