One Person Gives Back

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Tamara Belinc


Bill Morgan believes you should walk through life with a smile on your face, a prayer in your heart and outstretched hands to help those in need.  When Bill believes in something, he acts on it.


Growing upon a cotton farm in Anniston, Ala., Bill, 64, suffered from rheumatic fever and was paralyzed for a time. “I know what it’s like to be left out,” he said, “so I made it my goal to be sure that no boy is left out that I can help.”  With that goal in mind, he has been the Past Master of the Masonic Orders and also the past president of his local Shriner’s chapter. He also served as an ambassador. “I’ve taken kids and their parents to Nashville to catch a bus to go the Shriner’s hospital,” he said.


When Bill retired from the Saturn auto assembly plant in Spring Hill, he and his wife, Shirley, moved to Manchester, where one of their daughters attended church.  “We loved the area, the view,” he said. “We liked the people.  Everyone in this area here treats everyone the same.  You don’t meet anyone who thinks they are better than anyone else.”  Bill is also an ordained minister, and he works with the youth at the Church of God of Prophecy in Pelham.


His later good works have been with the Boys Scouts of America.  He is the chairman over the Elk River District.  “I got involved when my grandson was in the Tigers in the first grade,” he said. “They made me den leader and assistant cub master of Pack 314 in Manchester.”  The couple’s grandson, Matthew O’Field, a fifth-grader at Westwood Elementary School, lives in the house with them. Last year, Bill decided to start a pack at Westwood Elementary School.  “I felt the need to have a pack over there,” he said. “I don’t take no for an answer.”


In August of 2005 when Pack 304 began, the group had 17 boys and four registered adults. Now, just a little over a year later, they had 63 boys and 14 registered adults.  Shirley is the pack committee chairman for Pack 304.  Bill and the other adults help the boys participate in a Pinewood Derby race, a spaceship race and fishing derbies. “If they don’t know how to fish, we teach them,” he said. “We take them on overnight camping trips.”   Bill says they are like one big family. “Whenever we have a leader’s meeting, it’s like a family reunion,” he said. “We just sit around and talk like family members. We want to do what’s best for the boys.”  When it’s time for the Christmas parade, all the boys contribute to it. “We teach them how to march,” he said. “We also teach them how to carry the flag and fold it. Scouting is not an extension of the classroom, but it is character building.”  Pack 304 serves boys in the Tigers to the Webelos. “We are the boot camp that prepares them for Boy Scouts,” he said.


“It’s heartwarming, Bill says.  We see the boys come in first grade and grow up. They learn so much and have so much character development. The teaching in Boy Scouts is hands-on. We get to see the skills develop.”


Bill’s work with children extends farther than the Boy Scouts and the Shriner’s.  He also plays Santa Claus for local children.  “My fee is a great big smile,” he said.  “What I see in the children’s faces, well, I’m overpaid for what I do.”


Bill believes in giving back to others, but still insists he isn’t doing anything special. “I’m just an average Joe trying to help someone out,” he said.


“Only to the extent that someone is living out this self transcendence of human existence, is he truly human or does he become his true self. He becomes so, not by concerning himself with his self’s actualization, but by forgetting himself and giving himself, overlooking himself and focusing outward.”
-Victor Frankl


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Posted on 19 November, 2008 in Gratitude, Happiness, Helping Others, Inspirational Stories
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