Many of us retire and spend years searching for a hobby or volunteer opportunity that helps keep us busy and positively involved in our community. For Jerry Segraves, that opportunity was quickly found at a local Senior Center in his Arkansas hometown. Jerry has spent several years connecting with individuals from all walks of life at the Greenbrier Senior Center – many of them being WWII veterans. We asked Jerry to share his experiences through his volunteer work with us as part of our Good Folks Project.
DC: How did you get involved with volunteering at the Greenbrier Senior Center?
JS: I got involved with volunteering and working at the Greenbrier Senior Center after moving to Arkansas five years ago and basically not doing a lot of activities other than hobbies. I saw an opportunity, so I started working there part-time in my own retirement, knowing it would be a chance to meet new and interesting people.
DC: You enjoy connecting with the veteran members and hearing their stories – what draws you to these folks?
JS: We have a few war-era veterans at the senior center. I really respect them for their service and enjoy visiting with them. One WWII vet was all over the Pacific Theater during WWII and has some very interesting tales to tell. Sadly, within another generation, all of these WWII-era vets will be gone, so if you have the chance, befriend some and listen to their stories today. They truly were the "Greatest Generation."
DC: I’m sure you’ve heard some crazy stories from the senior veterans. Is there one memory that really stands out to you?
JS: Mr. Jim, our WWII Navy Vet, went into the Navy at just 17-years-old and was shipped all over the Pacific over the next two years. He had numerous adventures and close calls and was one of the lucky ones to make it home in one piece.
DC: What were you up to before your volunteer work at the senior center? Are you a veteran yourself?
JS: Prior to the work at our local senior center, I was a mailman in Kansas for 26 years and retired early (at 51) in 2009. I then managed a group of Bed & Breakfasts for a friend for 5 years, plus had my own photo business before completely retiring and moving to Arkansas in 2014. Once here, I engaged in hobbies and worked on the house, etc. for 5 years. But then I was looking for something a little bit more to
do and the gig at the senior center came along. Although not a military veteran myself, I worked with many in my years of federal service.
DC: If you had to choose one Duke Cannon product to get all the Greenbrier senior center members hooked on, which would it be and why?
JS: It's very hard to pick one Duke Cannon product that I would give to all of the folks at the Greenbrier Senior Center, but If I had to, it would be a big bar of Sea soap (Naval Supremacy) and I would tell everyone it was compliments of our very own WWII Navy Vet, Mr. Jim!