One afternoon, I was standing in the hallway welcoming the day’s guests, and one of my morning volunteers showed up and approached me. I smiled and greeted him, and he quietly took my hand, placed a key in it and closed my hand around it. We looked at each other and hugged; without any words spoken, I knew he was telling me it was time for him to retire. It was a bittersweet moment.
I’ve only known Sylvester Bryant since I started in 2005, but he was on board long before me. Over the years, he has been one of our most loyal volunteers. For years, he worked three days a week, and was always the first one in the building. He was our food distribution manager, overseeing all the activity and volunteers in the food department. He was a hard working dedicated volunteer and a friend to everyone at the Center. He’s soft spoken, and always a gentleman. He slowed down to one or two days a week last year, but continued with the same dedication.
In 2011, I had the pleasure of attending Catholic Charities annual banquet in Raleigh where Sylvester was honored by Bishop Burbidge with the well-deserved John J. Carey award for outstanding contribution to charity and social outreach ministry. He was described as being “known for his kindness, patience, diligence and compassion for the guests served”.
There’s one special memory I’ll always have of our relationship. The first several years I was on board, we encountered occasional problems with rodents. Being absolutely afraid of the creatures, I had a personal motto that read “The first day I see a rodent will be the last day I work at Outreach”. Well every now and then when a rodent showed up, Sylvester would go out of his way to ensure it was handled, and any evidence was disposed of before I arrived. And thanks to him, I’m still here! (and the rodents are gone.)
Special thanks to his wife, Dolores, for lending him to us for so many years! I am grateful to you both. Best wishes for a happy retirement (but please come back for a visit now and then!)