Extraordinary 76-year-old Helps After Disasters

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — To hear Lee Dixon tell it, he’s just a retired guy who wants to give back to the community.  But the people he helps tell a different story.

Jennifer and Jesse Osborne were flooded out of their mobile home in Winnabow, NC in 2018 by hurricane Florence. After staying with friends for two years, they tried to live in a camper on their property.

That lasted 3 months.

“We couldn’t seem to get the help we needed,” Jennifer explained. “There was [sic] so many people that had to have help.”

The Osbornes couldn’t connect their home to water, sewer or electric lines, so they did everything by hand, including providing their own water and cleaning their sewage system.

Eventually, the county came calling.

“They told us we couldn’t do that, so the county put us in touch with the church Lee Dixon attends,” she said.

And that’s when Lee went to work.

“Disasters have a lot of different names and definitions,” Dixon said.

“A disaster can be losing one’s job, one’s home or because of repairs that have been put off for so long, you’re just not able to inhabit your home any longer.”

In his role at Brunswick County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) Dixon was able to find a new apartment for the Osbornes.

He also helped coordinate rent, utility deposits, furniture. appliances and even groceries.

“There are 20 or 30 organizations that are part of VOAD,” Dixon explained. “Churches, Brunswick Family Assistance, Brunswick Senior Resources Center, Catholic Charities,  The United Methodists…it’s a great variety of organizations that want to help out and make a difference.”

When he’s not helping people who’ve suffered a crisis, he can often be found in Ms. Dammann’s 4th grade class at Supply Elementary School, volunteering as a math tutor.

“Volunteers like Mr. Lee really help us out,” Damman said.

“It lightens our loads as teachers, and it gives the children another opportunity to make a bond with another adult.”

He also helps students stay on task and think more critically, according to Dammann.

Here’s what else she’s seen from the students Dixon tutors:

“More engagement, they tend to be better problem solvers, they’re more likely to focus on their own personal growth and think through things a little more.”

All in a day’s work for this volunteer, who stays way busier during retirement than he thought he would.

He’s not complaining, though; especially when he gets some feel-good feedback.

“When you see the smile on people’s faces…knowing they’re back to normal or feeling good about themselves,” he said.

“Just having the good feeling that you’ve made a difference in people’s lives really is comforting, and you sleep well at night knowing that.”

An exceptional attitude, from one of the Extraordinary People of the Cape Fear.

To access services from VOAD, visit here .

Original article posted on WWAY TV here: https://www.wwaytv3.com/extraordinary-76-year-old-helps-after-disasters/