Jim and Dorothy Newland

Jim and Dorothy Newland are long-time supporters and volunteers of the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA). Becoming a Meals on Wheels volunteer in July of 1973, Dorothy is ACCA’s longest serving volunteer, delivering over 34,000 meals in the last 48 years. Dorothy has not only found her home with Meals on Wheels but also with ACCA as a whole.  Dorothy served on ACCA’s Board of Directors and as the Chair for ACCA’s Capital Campaign in 2004, supporting the Bentley Adult Day Health addition. Jim, a supporter of her volunteerism and work, later joined Dorothy as a Meals on Wheels volunteer in 1998 after his retirement from the corporate world. Dorothy and Jim both love the face-to-face, one-on-one contact that Meals on Wheels offers. Creating and fostering a legacy of community spirit, compassion, and life-long engagement in service, Jim and Dorothy Newland are explementary examples of service.

Dorothy, tell us a little about your background and why you chose to serve…

Athens is my hometown. After completing my degree at Vanderbilt University, I returned here and married Jim Newland. Jim’s father was a Presbyterian minister living in Dawson, Georgia, and Jim was attending the University of Georgia at the time we met.  After having two children, I wanted to do something in the community, something to help those who needed assistance. I had done volunteer work during my college years and took a little time off when our children were babies. In the meantime, Jim was a busy banker and involved with the Boys and Girls Club in Athens.

You have been a long-term volunteer with ACCA, serving as a Meals on Wheels volunteer since July of 1973! How did you first become involved?

In early 1973 or maybe sooner, I read about the Friendly Visitor Program at the Council on Aging and signed up to volunteer there. It turned out that the woman I was assigned to visit and I were not a good match so in July of 1973 I switched to delivering Meals on Wheels. Bingo, it was a great fit! I very much enjoyed seeing my clients once a week and I could take my children with me, too.

Do you have any special stories or anecdotes that you’d like to share about your volunteer experience?

Perhaps my most exciting experience on a meal route was ten years ago after an officer involved shooting. The search for the suspect went on for several days, and I found myself in the middle of it in East Athens as I was delivering meals. Law enforcement was everywhere, including overhead in helicopters, and my client’s driveway was blocked. I managed to bully my way in there and deliver the meal. I guess they figured the only way to get rid of me was to let me finish my job!

Have there been any clients that made a lasting impact on you or Jim?

Dorothy: After Jim retired from banking in 1998, he became a frequent substitute for Meals on Wheels. He is probably one of the few people who know all the routes and has been exposed to all the clients at one time or the other. Since I began 48 years ago, many of my clients have made a deep impression on me. Their kindness and wisdom and positive attitudes are etched in my mind and heart. I have gotten to know their families and attended their funerals. The daughter of one of my favorites has become a close friend. One lady moved off my route, but we stayed in touch for several years enjoying visits and ice cream at the Dairy Queen until she died.

Jim: Being an “on call” substitute has worked for both the agency and me. Knowing they can call me when needed and that often I can pick and choose the route if I am available has been beneficial for both.

What inspires you to continue your legacy of service?

We both just plain enjoy serving, not just at ACCA but with a number of non-profits. It is a lifelong habit. We have enjoyed having our children and grandchildren participate with us in our volunteer work, and we hope that our example will spur them on to service in the community as well. So far that is happening and now we have two more (a two-year-old and a four-year-old) to help us deliver meals.

How do you age and live well?

I am not sure how well we are aging but we do stay active. We take long walks with

our mini-schnauzer and we do water activities at Lake Burton. We attend cultural events and socialize with friends. We are involved with our church. Jim is heavily involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America on the national level, and I volunteer with local organizations. Life is good!

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