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Dallas Great-Grandmother Shines as Volunteer During the Pandemic

Delores Wilson ain’t your average great-grandmother.

The Dallas-based life-long volunteer and AARP member saw the challenges of the pandemic as an opportunity to serve those in need. And her efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Recently, she was named a finalist for the AARP Create The Good “Show Your Love Volunteer Contest,” which identified her among a competitive collection of selfless individuals from across the country.

“She volunteers for everyone and everything,” said Susan Williams, an AARP Texas associate state director. “Delores is the kind of person who sees a need in the community and responds -- and she is incredibly effective in what she does.”

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In March, when Gov. Greg Abbott advised Texans to shelter in place, just as the full extent of the virus’ disruption to daily life was beginning to crystalize, Wilson sprang into action. Transforming her home into what she called “volunteer central,” she set about finding creative ways to support her African American community.

One such way was applying her powerhouse fundraising skills to a group of individuals seeking help finding resources to feed senior citizens. From April to June, Wilson was on the phone soliciting funds and donations to buy groceries for older Texans, now isolated at home. Her efforts totaled over $22,000.

“My parents always raised me to understand that if you have something that you're concerned about, don't just complain about it, do something,” Wilson said. “Even if it's something small. If everybody does something small, you achieve large things.”

Since then, thanks to her efforts, the modest group of six has grown to 30 and are now shipping and delivering food and cleaning products twice a month to over 200 seniors in the metropolitan Dallas area. 

But Wilson’s generosity didn’t end there. She created care packages for over 100 seniors in a low-income housing complex, helped solicit donations to provide lunch and snack packages to over 400 school-aged children and responded to an AARP call for volunteers to send encouraging notes to seniors in long-term care facilities.

“I do what I do because I want to, not because somebody asked me to, or because there’s anything in it for me,” Wilson said. “If it’s donations, if it's time, money, whatever it is, if I have it I'm willing to give it freely without expecting anything back.”

All said and done, Wilson has raised over $43,000 in donations and in-kind services for about 1,000 people impacted by the pandemic. 

“The only way to make change in any community is for those who have the opportunity, who have the time, who have the resources, to stand up and do some things that make a difference,” she said. “It's one thing to see that things are needing to be done, it’s something else to talk about them, but nothing takes place unless you get up and take action.”

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