Joe Ben and Charline Wilson: Quiet lives, loud impact

Susan EspirituFountain City, Our Town Neighbors

Retirement is an important milestone in life, one for many of us to transition into a new phase of life. This can be a time to pursue hobbies, travel or simply relax and enjoy life. This is a story about an incredible couple who have spent a life in the background being servants and evidently couldn’t wait for retirement to spend it in serving in even more areas. I got them to, reluctantly, tell me just some of the ways they minister to others through their hands and feet.

I heard, “Mr. Wilson!” as I turned around to see the excited reunion of old friends at John Knox where many of us had gathered for a church retreat. Seeing people reunite after years apart can be heartwarming. Since it’s our church’s centennial, some past members had joined for the day, hence the reunion between past senior highs, Lori Overton and Phyllis Holladay, with Joe Ben and Charline Wilson, their senior high advisors from the 70s. As the day was spent in sharing many memories of those years, it was a reminder of how powerful human connections are and the lasting impact that relationships have on our lives.

Joe Ben and Charline Wilson have realized the importance of volunteer work and have continued to make a profound impact on individuals and communities both locally and across the region throughout the years. Now retired from education, both can be found weekly at Fountain City Ministry Center registering people to qualify for the food and children’s clothing or stocking shelves and packing bags to give out to the recipients.

.Serving their church is high priority, and both are there weekly with projects: Charline sewing pajamas for the ministry center and Joe Ben working on maintenance and other projects.

Community is at the heart of their ministry, not only with the church and Fountain City Ministry Center but Fountain City Elementary School as well. Both pack snack bags for the school while Joe Ben arranges for other church members to pack additional bags. In addition, Joe Ben volunteers with the electrical crew for Habitat for Humanity.

Local community is not their sole focus, as these two are just a packed bag from taking off to help someone at a distance too. They have been on multiple trips with crews to Pearlington, Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana, to help repair Hurricane Katrina damage and one trip to West Virginia to repair a trailer from flood damage.

I have only scratched the surface of what a difference these two individuals make, because I know personally things that are not listed such as giving out welcoming cups to visitors at church, serving donuts and coffee to parents entering the daycare, spending overnight with guests staying with Family Promise. When you are a servant at heart, you are not tallying your contributions. Thank you, Joe Ben and Charline, for showing us what a bucket list should truly be.

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