23,932: That’s how many hours my grandfather volunteered at St. Mary’s Hospital. That’s only one place he served. He passed away at the age of 92 when I was a junior in college and his passion for the next generation instilled in me a desire to give back.

I remember vividly spending time with my grandfather in the summer, he lived in Richmond, a few hours drive from my home in Raleigh. When I visited, he always found a family with a little girl around my age so that I had friends. He took me to see local theater shows and I loved it. I would collect the actors’ autographs afterward on each program and dance with my friends in the aisles. Little did I realize then, but when I wasn’t in town to go to the shows with my grandfather, he took other children than may not have been able to afford to attend otherwise.

My grandfather also volunteered at his local church and local museum. He was passionate about pouring into the next generation, which he instilled in my mother and me.

He was the one driving other senior citizens to their medical appointments, usually he was older than his passengers. He volunteered at a local elementary school, tutoring and reading to kids. When he could no longer drive to the elementary school, he volunteered at the childcare center at his retirement community.

During hard times, I think back on how much he cared for the next generation, believing the world belongs to them. He inspires me to continue my volunteer work today. I want to leave a legacy like he left, because he made the world a better place by living in it. He took things he loved like science and children and gave back to those causes. Something so simple and it added up to more than 23,000 hours of service. That’s more than 11 years of a full-time job that he gave of himself. Yet, he didn’t set out to break a record of volunteer hours contributed or anything, it started with a passion and an hour of his time and grew into his now legacy.

I didn’t know about all of his volunteer efforts until I was in college, but looking back at my memories, it is because my grandfather went out of his way to build relationships that I had such fun in Richmond with him and all the other families I spent time with. Because my grandfather poured into others, I could run around his retirement community proudly claiming I was Jim York’s grand-daughter and every person knew him and smiled.

How many hours will you leave behind as a legacy?

Family photo from 2006


  • Julie Smith

    Senior Marketing Specialist

    ECS Southeast, LLP

    Julie's creativity and skill for story telling was established at an early age. From landing stories on CNN to implementing social media strategies, she is constantly pursuing new paths and communication expeditions. She thrives on connecting with people, making a positive impact in the community and inspiring others to do the same. Her [half] marathon runner commitment empowers her to turn challenges into opportunities. She sees the world through her lens of opportunity and is always searching for the subject of her next story (and chocolate).