Family Promise volunteer Walt Griffith tells a Christmas Eve story that sounds vaguely familiar.
It was 1979 and he was a minister in upstate New York. After the Christmas Eve service, he and his family piled into the car and headed out of town for the holiday. A snowstorm forced them to stop in a small village for the night. Walt found the town’s only inn but learned it was closed for the winter. A snowplow driver eventually discovered the family hunkered down in their car and went in search of the innkeeper, who had just returned from a Christmas Eve service where her pastor had shared the traditional “no room at the inn” story. Moved by the sermon, she opened her inn for the Griffith family.
That Christmas Eve sprang to mind when, nearly 20 years later, the church Walt joined upon retiring to Wilmington, NC, sought volunteers for the newly formed Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear. Walt has been its volunteer coordinator ever since. One of his favorite Family Promise memories involves a family who first arrived during Walt’s volunteer shift.
“The father walked in, and I greeted him just like I’d greet anybody else,” he recalls. “I didn’t think anything about it.”
But at a Family Promise event sometime later, the father, whose family had since graduated from the program, shared his story with the audience. He spoke of their first night at Family Promise and how a volunteer had eased his fears, noting the impact that had on his journey to regain independence.
That volunteer was Walt.
“Walt is great at thinking outside the box to solve challenges,” says Anne Best, the Affiliate’s executive director. “He has had a huge impact on our organization!”
At 90, he has no plans to slow down.
“Most people can’t understand how I’m still doing this, but that’s just the way I am,” Walt remarks. “It’s a fantastic team, and I’m lucky to be here!”