A trip to Jamaica with loving donors and retirees inspires Food For The Poor’s Director of Public Relations, Kathy Skipper.
What does retirement look like to you? Is it a permanent vacation, a part-time job, volunteer work?
I’m 60 now and I think a lot about how retirement might shape up for my husband and me. Traveling last month with Food For The Poor donors from Grand Junction, Colorado, I was curious about how they ended up living out their retirement serving the poor.
On the way to visit the poorest of the poor in Jamaica, we talked about their professional lives and how they now spend their days.
Marv Walworth was an electrical mechanical engineer and Ellie Walworth taught second-grade for 19 years, after staying home with their four children. Married 56 years next month, they have seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
They first learned of Food For The Poor when a retired priest visited their parish. Over time, visiting priests would stay with them at their home. But their spirit of generosity didn’t start late in life.
“Both of us had mothers who were always giving, always caring for someone who didn’t have as much. We were an immigrant family, and we didn’t have a lot, but we were taught to share,” said Ellie, whose family background is Hungarian.
One of her simple joys now is baking her lasagna to share with the soup kitchen that serves about 100 local homeless people.
Marv said that as an engineer he was always checking the most efficient way to help someone, to give them a hand up so that they could then work to have a better life.
“We have found that in Food For The Poor. Everything we have experienced is how effective they are in using our funds,” Marv said.
Now that they have retired from their professional lives, they are working on behalf of the poor, including traveling to Jamaica in April to visit a family of children they housed, celebrate with students who have a new school, and reunite with residents of a village where hope and industry has replaced despair.
“I remember when we told our friends we were traveling to Jamaica, they said, ‘Oh, you’re going to Ocho Rios.’ “Oh no, we’re not going to Ocho Rios,” she said with a laugh.
Ellie celebrated her birthday in Food For The Poor’s Jamaica office with a cake and the knowledge that their vacation photos would yield more than memories of a day at the beach.
They make this kind of retirement seem so real and doable, even for people like my husband and me.
Jean Bryan, principal of the school in Mason Hall that the Walworths inaugurated on their trip, said she was grateful for the couple who left the comfort of their life in Grand Junction to help people they had never met.
“And they in their years, in their senior years, took on this project. Love takes time, courage and true benevolence,” Bryan said. “Those things God has bestowed on Marv and Ellie.”