During this Thanksgiving and holiday season, what do you count among your blessings? For Open Hand volunteer, Scott Smith, he's thankful for the physical and mental abilities to be able to serve others.
The Marietta resident and Georgia Tech graduate works 50-plus hours a week as a financial planner for Morgan Stanley, but also finds time to carve out a few hours every Thursday morning to deliver meals for those in need.
The Atlanta nonprofit Open Hand, located at 176 Ottley Drive on the cusp of Midtown and Buckhead, is the largest provider of home-delivered, medically appropriate meals and nutrition education in the U.S., delivering more than 5,500 meals daily to those challenged by or looking to prevent chronic disease or disability.
“I love it,’’ Smith said of his work with Open Hand, which in the last year celebrated its 20 millionth Atlanta area meal delivery.
In the late 1990s while a student at Tech, Smith spent time volunteering in the nonprofit’s kitchen. He moved out of state for several years, but returned and found himself back at Open Hand during the January 2011 ice storm when he answered a call out for delivery drivers.
“It was shortly after that when I started to think about doing something on a more consistent basis and to take advantage of my flexible work schedule,” explained Smith, who also makes time on selected weekends to deliver.
And he wasn’t the only family member stepping up to get involved. Wife Candice, who like Scott grew up in Snellville, came from “a very philanthropic family” and encouraged him to take along their now 5-year-old son, Davis, during the summer months when the youngster wasn’t in school.
Open Hand is the boy's first-ever volunteer experience and he loves it according to his dad. Sometimes all three Smith family members will deliver meals together on weekends.
According to dad, Davis prays a lot of nights, too, about the Open Hand clients he visits that day and asks that they have enough good food to eat. The sight of the young boy delivering meals often lights up the faces of the clients - and his father, too.
“My son gets so excited and won’t let me carry the food to the door,” Smith explained. “He loves giving the people the food and it’s something I enjoy watching.”
Together, the Smith family has volunteered more than 1,000 hours for Open Hand during the past year – and you can get involved, as well.
Open Hand has an extra delivery need for volunteers during the holidays with increased needs on the following days for drivers:
- Saturday, Nov. 24
- Sunday, Nov. 25
- Wednesday, Dec. 12
- Thursday, Dec. 13
- Monday, Dec. 24
- Wednesday, Dec. 26
If you’re interested, please call 404-872-2707 or see here for more information.
“I would encourage people to find something they enjoy volunteering for and go for it,” Smith said.