Rural Program - Volunteers of the Quarter JUNE 2023
Congratulations, James and Erika Richardson, for being honored as our Volunteers of the Quarter – Rural Route - delivering meals throughout North Monterey County. The couple have been volunteering with Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley (MOWSV) since July 16, 2020. We were excited to have them start as we needed additional volunteers during Covid-19 and they were happy to join the volunteer team. James and Erika wanted a meaningful way to give back to the community that has been their home for the past 42 years. MOWSV seemed to fit that bill. “We felt that delivering nutritious meals to people who aren't able to cook for themselves was the way to go,” said Erika. She had planned for several years that after her retirement she would want be a part of these meal deliveries. When she brought up the idea at James's retirement, he told her that he wanted to help too.
The couple agrees that the interaction with each client is their favorite part of volunteering. They shared that it is very satisfying to meet all types of seniors and to hear them tell their life stories -- which are often quite amazing. “Sometimes we are the only people our client will encounter that particular day. It makes them happy to tell us how their day is going. Most of our clients are very thankful for the service,” shared Erika. Both James and Erika recommend to anyone looking to begin volunteering, to choose this worthy cause because MOWSV is a great non-profit organization worthy of support. Volunteering runs deep in the Richardson family. Erika volunteered at all the schools their children attended. Both James and Erika taught children's church at the, now closed, Main Post Chapel in Fort Ord for over 30 years. They are also involved with I-Help, an organization that supports the homeless population.
Both James and Erika are retired. James retired at the end of 2019, after 29 years of service with the US Postal Service as a tractor/trailer operator. Prior to his time with USPS, he served 20 years with the US Army. He was stationed in Germany, Vietnam and Korea. James’ last post was Fort Ord in Seaside and Erika was employed by the (now closed) Mack Stove Company in Seaside. The company sold appliance parts. She worked as bookkeeper and in sales; “You might say I was a “Girl Friday,” said Erika. All employees at Mack Stove Company were like family. She retired in June 2022 after working there for 42 years. Now, most of James’ days are spent tending to his 8 chickens and 1 rooster. He enjoys wood working and fishing and, of course, there is yard work to do. As of late he is also trying his luck at raising artichokes and hot peppers. Erika, too, keeps busy with gardening and keeping the yard looking tidy. Erika shared, “In my rare moments of nothing else to do, I love reading and doing crafts.”
The Richardson’s have resided in Monterey County for 42 years. On New Years Eve of 1978 they arrived in Fort Ord, Seaside,CA transferring from Germany. The couple bought their first and only home in April 1981 in Prunedale, where they still reside. They shared that their original plan was to eventually retire in Germany, but James’ orders were changed from Germany to Korea. That was when the Richardsons decided that Erika and their children, a daughter and son, would stay in Prunedale, while James served his tour in Korea. The children were teenagers at that time and the couple thought it would be best not to disrupt their lives too much with a move to Korea. In addition to their children, they always had dogs. Currently, they are dog parents to Max, a 9-year-old Min-Pin mix and Hannah, a 3-year-old German Shephard. "They give us great joy and accompany us on our MOWSV deliveries. The dogs seem to enjoy the drives as much as we do,” said Erika. The MOWSV staff are so thankful that James and Erika Richardson chose MOWSV to volunteer their time and compassion and congratulate the couple again on being chosen Volunteers of the Quarter – Rural Route.