Release Date: 
Monday, December 3, 2018

HFC alumni named Dearborn Volunteers of the Year

CAPTION: Bob (left) and Barb Hayes, both HFC alumni, have been named Volunteers of the Year by the City of Dearborn. For the past four years, they have volunteered for Dearborn's Meals on Wheels program.

For their service and dedication to the Dearborn Meals on Wheels program, HFC alumni Bob and Barb Hayes were named as the City of Dearborn’s 2018 Volunteers of the Year by the Senior Services Division of the Recreation and Parks Department.

The couple lives in Dearborn and have volunteered for the Meals on Wheels program four days a week, nearly every week for the past four years. In some ways, it’s become a second career for the couple, who were honored at the Volunteer Lunch Oct. 17, which is held annually.

Bob and Barb Hayes

A Dearborn native and alumna of Edsel Ford High School, Barbara graduated from HFC in 1972 with her associate degree in nursing. She earned her undergraduate in nursing from Madonna University in 1988. She spent more than 40 years as a nurse, working in Labor and Delivery (L&D) at what is now Oakwood Beaumont in Dearborn until she retired in 2014. In fact, when she was the clinical manager in L&D, Barb was the supervisor of Dr. Susan Shunkwiler, dean of the HFC School of Health and Human Services.

In her last 13 years as a nurse, Barb worked as quality specialist in the Medical Staff Quality Management Department. One of her responsibilities was monitoring physician practices for the Women & Children’s Division.

A Dearborn Heights native and alumnus of Robichaud High School, Bob graduated from HFC in 1985 with his associate degree in industrial materials technology. He worked at Great Lakes Steel in in Ecorse for nearly 40 years. In his final years there, he was an electrician. He and Barb have a son, Robert, an alumnus of Edsel Ford and Kettering University in Flint, who is a mechanical engineer for Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn.

“My first encounter with the Meals of Wheels program was when I was doing my community health rotations while at Madonna. I knew I wanted to be part of it one day,” said Barb. “So when I retired, I was more than happy to participate. Bob was more than eager to join me, too.”

Meals on Wheels

The couple are two of 65 full-time drivers, 15 substitute drivers, and numerous students – high school and college – who volunteer in some capacity with Dearborn’s Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels provides meals to homebound senior citizens across the nation. Currently, there are more than 5,000 community-based programs across the nation dedicated to addressing senior citizens’ isolation and hunger.

The couple spends two days a week delivering meals to senior residents across Dearborn, serving 16-18 people. They spend the other two days packaging the meals at Sisson Manor on the west side of the city.

Their commitment doesn’t stop there – if a substitute driver is needed, they’re willing to fill in. They’ve also shoveled snow for the seniors, salted their porches, and even called 911 if necessary. Regarding the latter, Barb stated they provide welfare checks for them as well.

“I’ve only been in this position a year,” said CeCe Pilon, Dearborn Meals on Wheels volunteer coordinator. “In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to know them well. They are great people and excellent volunteers. They’re so willing to help out when I need subs; they’ve never let me down. They definitely deserve this award.”

Not for the sake of recognition

Barb confessed she and Bob were both “tickled” when they learned they were receiving this award.

“We don’t volunteer for the sake of recognition. While it’s great, it’s not about that. We volunteer for the sake of volunteering,” said Bob.

Barb agreed. It’s much more than delivering meals for them. She and her husband have been touched by gratitude the seniors have shown them time and again. The couple also enjoys talking to them, especially since they’re the only human contact many of them have.

“People have come up to us and said they’ve seen us in the newspaper and congratulate us. That’s very nice. It’s also very humbling,” she said. “These people have taught Bob and I not to sweat the small stuff, to slow down and smell the roses. Some of them are bed-ridden and others are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Some of them don’t have any family nearby and we’re the only people they see. They’re glad to see us. They look forward to seeing us. I’ve never met a senior who hasn’t greeted us with a smile and said ‘thank you’ – that makes us feel good. They give more to us perhaps more than we give to them.”