Olentangy Valley News

Couch potatoes, they are not

Couple's ceaseless volunteer efforts earn induction into the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame this week

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Marvin and Shirley Philpott have one word of advice for senior citizens looking to stay young: Volunteer.

When others take that advice, they'll immediately realize they'll have a hard time catching up to the Philpotts.

As of December 2013, the couple had driven a combined 7,693 miles for the Council for Older Adults of Delaware County's Meals on Wheels Program. To put that in perspective, that's 100 miles short of a trip from the couple's Troy Township home to Anchorage, Alaska, and back.

Mrs. Philpott is quick to point out that she and her husband aren't out to set any volunteering records. They just want to stay active while helping others.

"I do think we get as much out of it as the clients do," she said.

She said volunteering is a way to give back to the community while staying sharp.

Using the most conservative estimate, the couple has volunteered for 10,800 hours for Grady Memorial Hospital and Meals on Wheels. A new volunteer could match that number by volunteering 24 hours a day for 480 consecutive days.

Mr. Philpott said when retirees don't volunteer, it's easy to "become a couch potato and shorten your life."

While both said they don't volunteer for the recognition, it's clear they've posted some impressive numbers -- "hall of fame numbers" in sports terminology.

In appreciation for their many miles and days of service, the Council for Older Adults nominated the Philpotts for the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. The couple were inducted into the hall Wednesday, May 14, at the Janis Center on the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus.

Donna Meyer, spokeswoman for the Council for Older Adults, said the Philpotts' enthusiasm about volunteering has attracted others to the senior center.

"They're great ambassadors, and I know that they've recruited a number of volunteers and talked about our organization out in the community," she said.

Mr. Philpott said although they don't volunteer to be recognized, he and his wife were thrilled when the council nominated them for the honor.

"It's kind of a high, and then to actually be accepted, that's a pinnacle -- a lot higher," he said. "It's kind of outstanding."

Mrs. Philpott said the best part of volunteering is being able to interact with her Meals on Wheels clients. She said the clients become more like friends or family members every week.

"They look forward to you coming in there," she said. "If you happen to come in on another day, they'll look at you and say, 'This is not Monday,' or 'This is not Friday.' "

Meals on Wheels volunteers also sometimes are the only people available to check on homebound seniors on a daily basis.

Mrs. Philpott said she once had to call 911 after finding a client had not eaten her last Meals on Wheels delivery and could not get up to use the bathroom.

"They told us later that if we had not called her in, she would have probably been dead that day, she was so dehydrated," she said.

In addition to their Meals on Wheels work, the Philpotts both volunteer on a weekly basis at Grady Memorial Hospital in Delaware. Mrs. Philpott enters data and coordinates volunteer services, while her husband helps out in the hospital's library and hands out snacks and drinks.

The Philpotts both are retired educators with more than 40 years of experience who have lived in Delaware County since 1990. Both originally are from Texas.

Mr. Philpott moved to Ohio in 1968 and taught physics at Wittenberg University in Springfield, where he also served as director of the school's academic computer lab. He later worked at Ohio State University through the Ohio Department of Education.

Mrs. Philpott moved to Columbus in 1983 and took a job at what is now the Delaware Area Career Center. The couple married that year and will celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary later this month.

The Philpotts have five children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren who live throughout the country. While none of them will be able to attend the induction ceremony, the Philpotts said they should be able to watch it later online.

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