Community volunteer celebrates 75th birthday by providing hundreds of meals for others

Greg never expected to be spending periods during his retirement wondering whether to buy food or pay rent.

“It’s a tough decision,” the 75-year-old says. “Keeping yourself alive or keeping a roof over your head.”

So you can image how Greg felt when he was offered the choice to get a free, hot lunch at a nearby community kitchen.

“Coming here is a lifesaver for me,” he says.

After a few years of being a Rainbow Kitchen guest, Greg decided to become a volunteer.

“What’s the use of being a couch potato?” Greg smiles. “When there’s a place like this you can help out.”

Greg’s been volunteering for more than a decade now, doing everything from tidying up the driveway to picking up produce donations.

“He’s a 75-year-old volunteer that comes every day,” Patrick Johnstone smiles. The executive director of the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society says Greg’s enthusiasm is infectious. “There’s no stopping his motivation to help.”

Even on his birthday, Greg stopped by to volunteer over the lunch rush.

“It’s kind of hard to think about yourself when people are in need,” Greg explains.

It’s also hard to believe what Greg requested for his birthday.

He asked for the team to make his favourite meal of Salisbury steak, garlic-onion mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. Plus an extra dessert.

“Oh yeah!” Greg says, mashing the potatoes. “It’s going to be good.”

But the thing is, the meals are not for Greg.

“He wants the community to feel loved,” Patrick says. “So he provides an entire meal to the community out of his pocket.”

Over the past two years, Greg saved what little he had so he could celebrate his day by serving about 400 others.

“It’s all his finances,” Patrick smiles. “It’s all his love and passion.”

Greg says his 75th birthday celebration has made his big heart feel overwhelmed, which is exactly what he’d hoped for. The best gifts you can receive, he smiles, are the most heartfelt ones you can give.

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