from our partnerFaithwire
written byWill Maule
Retirees Tom Umstead and Dave Deutchman spend several hours a week helping out at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where hundreds of babies and given round-the-clock care.
Umstead delivers flowers and goodies to the nursing stations, picking up stacks of items from local grocery stores. Incredibly, he’s been doing it for 20 years.
“I like to play with the children, and read to them,” Umstead noted, adding that “a lot of the families like to talk.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities did a feature on Umstead as a way of bringing attention to his wonderful volunteer work:
“After his retirement, [Tom] noticed the large amount of perfectly good baked goods, food and supplies that would go unused or thrown away in large grocery stores. After further investigation, he called the Publix headquarters in Lakeland, Fl. He told the representative:
“I think the stuff you’re throwing away, I could find somewhere that it could go to good use!”
It was a story of good intentions that the Publix management had heard before. Unfortunately, others before Mr. Tom had a similar idea with little follow-through. Many others had the inability to pick-up the day-old food on a consistent basis. This caused headaches for the store managers and they often gave up.
However, Mr. Tom was persistent and after a trial run with the local store, he continued to arrive week after week willing and able to bring the food and supplies to the needy. And, after years of consistency, Mr. Tom has expanded his reach from that local Publix store to many other grocery stories, Costco’s and more! He deliveres each week to multiple charities but we’re lucky enough to have him deliver a car load full of toys, supplies, canned foods and baked goods to both of our Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses each and every week.”
Another super volunteer, Dave Deutchman, has been coming to the same hospital for 13 years. Known affectionately as the “NICU Grandpa,” his number-one job is to cuddle sick babies, offering them much-needed comfort as they recover from various illnesses.
“The two days that I come into the hospital are the best part of my week,” Deutchman told TODAY in a recent video interview, which also features a clip of him singing “You Are My Sunshine” to a tiny sleeping baby.
“When I started coming here, people said what are you doing there?” Deutchman continued. “I say, ‘I hold babies, I get peed on, puked on, it’s terrific.’”
Though clearly speaking tongue-in-cheek, the veteran baby-comforter admitted that it can be a heartbreaking job, particularly when the children do not get better.
“I’ve never lost my composure int he hospital,” he said, “but there were times over the years where I’d be at home reading the book and be staring at the same page for 20 minutes. I’m thinking about the kids, and I wouldn’t even realize I was doing that, until I feel tears running down my face.”
“You don’t walk out of here unscathed,” he added.
One of the babies’ moms said that the presence of the men is “a real blessing, especially when we can’t be here.”
What truly amazing work! Say a prayer for these two gentlemen as they comfort and serve the sick.