LIMA — For Roy Baldridge, volunteering is just a way of life.
Seeing Baldridge’s devotion, and counting more than 60 hours monthly of his retirement time spent volunteering, his wife Esther Baldridge nominated her husband for this year’s Jefferson Award.
“He definitely believes that success is being able to give back to other people and to have something meaningful to do with your life,” she said.
But Baldridge believes he was born to volunteer.
“My father was very vested in the community and supported charitable causes. My parents had great expectations for my brothers, sister and me. We were expected to help, it was just a way of life,” Baldridge said.
And it’s a way of life Roy Baldridge has embraced.
“It’s an expectation that God has given. God expects us to help others. I believe we are expected to serve. When God has given you much, much is expected to be given. It is the right thing to do,” he said. “I think it is really important to have something worthwhile to do with your life that is meaningful to others in terms of service.”
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Baldridge found his way to Lima after securing a job with the Social Security Administration. He worked there for 36 years, retiring in 2007.
While working, he began serving Lima residents through his volunteer work in a variety of ways. In 2002, he became active in the Country Club Hills, Twin Lakes Neighborhood Association. He encouraged the 500 households there to join hands with the Lima-Allen County Neighborhoods in Partnership (LACNIP). As a result, he took home the 2013 Shirley Daley Neighborhood Leadership Award, presented for advocating for improved public safety, quality of life, a positive community image, mentoring, building partnerships and creating collaboration between neighborhoods and organizations.
Connie Dershem, neighborhood specialist, wrote in an email, “Roy has been involved with neighborhood associations for many years, and has been an invaluable volunteer for Lima-Allen County Neighborhoods In Partnership (LACNIP), using his knowledge, skills, and passion to ensure the sustainability of each organization. Roy not only cares about his own neighborhood, but he truly is passionate about both the county and city working together for the good of all.”
But that’s not all he does.
Baldridge volunteered just after retirement to be trained to help prepare income taxes through AARP. Each January he attends a two-week training and then must take a competency test to help prepare tax returns for seniors. He does that three days each week, through April 15.
Baldridge also spends hours working at his Shawnee Community United Methodist Church. Along with serving on the board, he has gone on a medical mission trip to Haiti. Additionally, he is a lay pastor at the church, serves on the finance committee, works with the confirmation class, and developed a planned giving program for the church.
“We can always count on him. If he says he is going to do it, he does it,” said Dr. David Imler, director of lay pastors at the church. “He has been a real asset. His work is so outstanding.”
And Baldridge does it with a smile, believing it to be his calling from God..
“It is very emotional for me. Gives me warm feelings. It takes over my heart and drives me,” he said.
The Jefferson Awards for Public Service recognizes eight local winners for their volunteerism in the community, with each getting $350 for their organization. They’re sponsored by the Husky Lima Refinery, The Lima News, Your Hometown Stations and the United Way of Greater Lima. One local winner will announced at an event March 25 at the City Club in downtown Lima as the area’s representative to the national awards celebration in Washington, D.C., and the recipient of an additional $700 for the organization.