Originally published April 2019
Bernie Farace has been volunteering at Our Daily Bread Employment Center for over 20 years. While that’s impressive for anyone, it’s especially impressive for Bernie who, at 97 years old, is the center’s oldest volunteer.
“Uncle Bernie,” as everyone tends to call him, volunteers the fourth Wednesday of each month with his niece, Marion. Before his shift, he will sit down with a cup of coffee and indulge anyone with conversation. Then, he plates bread and dessert for the guests. It’s a gift that seems more special because Uncle Bernie is doing it.
Then after each shift, Uncle Bernie will ask, “How many did we do today?” Much to everyone’s delight, he’s always surprised by the number, saying: “Is that it? Thought we might be busier.”
Bernie started volunteering with his late wife, Eleanor. “She used to make tuna macaroni and cheese for the guests,” Bernie recalls. “I come here still to honor her.”
Uncle Bernie has a soft spot in my heart. If I’m lucky enough to make it to my 90s, I hope I am mobile enough to do something like Bernie. I used to think my 92-year-old grandfather reading a book every day was impressive, but then I met Uncle Bernie.
Uncle Bernie has no plans to slow down anytime soon. Volunteers are inspirational at any age, and all have their stories to tell. But Uncle Bernie reminds us you can make a difference at any age.