Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

December 30, 2013

Retired firefighter Pat Renshaw reaches out to community's mentally ill

It’d been a while since 56-year-old Pat Renshaw had volunteered somewhere.

When he was working as a Kokomo firefighter, he also worked part-time at Bona Vista helping clients with daily tasks like shopping, cooking or getting to doctor’s appointments.

Renshaw said he loved working with the non-profit group, but he had to give it up due to personal circumstances.

When he retired a few years ago after serving more than 30 years as a firefighter, Renshaw decided it was time to get back into volunteering. After all, he had the time now, and he missed being involved with a good cause.

“I missed the clients at Bona Vista,” he said. “They were just wonderful people.”

So one day, he decided to check out the Howard County Mental Health Association. Renshaw said he heard about the organization years ago when he was working with his church’s youth group, but he didn’t know much about it.

“I just came one Monday night and introduced myself,” he said. “It clicked. I thought, ‘I have to be here.’ It resonated with me.”

What resonated with Renshaw was an outreach called Social Club. Every Monday evening, any mental health patient in Howard or Miami counties could come to the basement at the Howard Masonic Lodge on North Washington Street for a party.

Patients can dance, get something to eat, talk with other patients and generally have a good time. Someone even dresses up as Elvis and sings old radio hits. On average, around 150 people show up.

Renshaw said he found his niche volunteering as a door greeter at Social Club. He’s been doing it nearly every Monday evening for the last three years.

“I almost know everybody’s name by now,” he said. “I like to always see how everyone is doing. Everybody comes, we turn the music up loud, and everybody has a great time. It’s a special feeling.”

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