At 84, Paul Carmony is almost as busy now as when he worked for insurance giant Humana. Paul retired from the company in 1998 and began volunteering for St Vincent de Paul, where he has volunteered for more than 20 years. The General, as he’s affectionately known, has no plans to retire from his volunteer assignment, which is good news for the charity and the community it serves.
What do your volunteer activities include?
I run the Clothes Closet and the Santa Shop on the main campus on Preston Street. The Clothes Closet provides used clothing for the homeless. I go through all the donations, sort the clothes, and organize them to give away. Since the pandemic, we’ve gotten more clothing donations, so I’ve had a lot to sort through. I make sure that the Clothes Closet stays stocked. On average, we give away 9,000 to 15,000 clothing items a year.
I also run the Santa Shop for needy children. Parents can come in and get new toys, sporting goods, and clothes for their children for Christmas. Area businesses get the wish lists and then supply the items. We serve about 600-1,000 children every year. Of course, the need keeps growing.
How did you get the nickname the General?
One of my first jobs was to organize and set up the Santa Shop. I work with the volunteers, showing them how to sort, organize, and set up all the donated items so the parents can easily find what they need for their children. I have no idea who came up with that term, but that’s what they’ve called me.
What have you discovered about yourself?
I have to guard against just accepting that people are homeless or in need and that’s part of life. I don’t want to become desensitized to it. I’ve been very fortunate in my life and want to give back.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Most of my spare time is spent at St. Vincent de Paul, but my son, Scott, is head football coach at duPont Manual High School, so I love going to all the games.
What advice would you give to others interested in volunteering?
St. Vincent de Paul is a wonderful place to volunteer. We can always use more help. But if they don’t choose us, then I’d recommend the Dare to Care food bank. There are a lot of opportunities to volunteer. You don’t want to ever look back and feel like you’ve wasted the time God’s given you. Make it all count.
By Kym Voorhees Raque | Photo by Melissa Donald