GraceWorks volunteers and married couple Keith and Brenda Squires Crow won the top award – the Anne T. Rutherford Award – last month at the annual Franklin Tomorrow Exemplary Community Volunteer Awards.
The following is the nomination letter detailing their contributions to GraceWorks and other organizations.
After the deaths of their respective spouses, Keith and Brenda Squires Crow found renewed meaning and purpose in their lives by serving others.
And in the process, they found each other.
In retirement, both sought to fill their empty days in service. Keith started volunteering in 2009 as a GraceWorks volunteer to listen to clients’ requests for aid and help determine how best to help them.
“I wanted the interaction with people and figure out how to make a difference in their lives,” Keith said.
Brenda decided to volunteer in the food pantry three years later. She says she couldn’t do the same job Keith does because she “would cry.” But she found her niche in the pantry, where she has become team leader for her shift directing eight other volunteers in sorting items and helping clients select the groceries they need.
The food pantry manager tried to match them up, but they weren’t interested. Both said they had already married, and lost, their soulmates. God, however, had other ideas. Romance bloomed when Keith asked Brenda to accompany him in 2014 to volunteer at the newly opened GraceWorks West in Fairview in addition to their work at the Franklin office. They married a year later.
Given their shared passion for service, the match was inevitable. Both of them are “our above-and-beyond” volunteers, said Erica Watkins, GraceWorks Neighbors Services assistant manager.
“Keith is our rock star,” she said. “He has such a gift. He has never had a situation with a neighbor that he has not been able to solve on some level. And Brenda, she never has to be told to do anything. She’s always ready to work and always smiling, ready to help our neighbors have food. They’re both just a great team.”
Brenda can barely speak for the tears when asked why she serves, and she eventually chokes out, “I enjoy helping people. There’s such a need.”
Keith also teaches three “Celebrate Recovery” classes each week and has individual discussions at the Williamson County Jail to help inmates with various problems. He helped bring the program there nine years ago.
The couple leads a Life Group at their church, and inspired the group’s 23 members into helping GraceWorks as well. Group members have helped the past two years at GraceWorks’ The Manger Christmas gift program. They eagerly collect clothing and other items through the year for The Manger.
In addition, they serve on their church’s pastoral care group that helps congregational members who need food or are in the hospital or dealing with family emergencies.
Having dedicated their lives to serving people in need, they believe they receive more blessings than those they help through the knowledge that their own human interactions make a difference.
“It’s not just about giving food or clothes or paying an electric bill,” Keith said. “It’s the contact that shows somebody cares. I talked to one lady in Fairview who just needed groceries. During our talk I asked how she was doing, and she started immediately crying. She said it was the first time anybody had asked her how she was doing.
“It’s a long road, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.”