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Longtime greeter laid off by Walmart finds joy in giving back to other senior citizens

James Javens
Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 20:21:15-04

BELTON, TX — James Javens, 78, is a longtime greeter at a Walmart in Belton. At the end of February, he was told he would no longer have a place in the store due to a company-wide policy change.

We reached out to Walmart officials on April 10 and never heard back about Javens' situation. His last day on the job is April 26, but he's choosing to see the silver lining.

Javens said while he looks for another job, he'll be able to spend more time volunteering with the Belton Police Department.

For the last five years, Javens has been involved with the RU OK? Senior Program. Each Wednesday, he and a group of other volunteers call more than 110 seniors to check in and make sure they're doing OK.

Javens understands how lonely life can get. He started volunteering with the department soon after his first wife passed.

"I see the need for it," Javens said. "It puts the joy in my heart just to know these people are going to be cared for through a phone call."

If a senior does not answer, a volunteer will call their emergency contact. If they cannot be reached, a police officer is sent out do a welfare check.

"If they fall and they cannot call for help, this is where we come in," said RU OK? Program Volunteer Coordinator Anita Wyatt.

While these volunteers serve as a lifeline, they're also a friend who cares.

"We can bring a little sunshine to their lives," Wyatt said. "We care, we care that you're doing OK."

In some cases, these volunteers are the only people the seniors will hear from all week. With that in mind, Javens tries to make each call special by offering up friendly conversation, or a listening ear.

"One man I talk to always has a joke that makes your day, makes you feel good," Javens said. "Another gentleman loves to talk, so I just sit there and listen."

"He really enjoys making the calls," Wyatt said. "I mean, he comes in here and he's just all energetic and everything. He loves to talk to people. He loves people!"

The comforting call goes both ways. Javens smiles as he makes his way through his call sheet, catching up with familiar voices.

"It's just been such fun for me," Javens said. "It makes my week better."

The RU OK? Program was started at the Belton Police Department in 2013. Since then, it's saved seven people who were sick or hurt when they couldn't make it to the phone.

The RU OK? Program also provides birthday and Christmas cards for the seniors.

April is National Volunteer Month and the Belton Police Department is always looking for more volunteers. It's also looking for more seniors who can be added to the call list.

If you're interested in adding a loved one to the list, you can call Anita Wyatt at 254-217-0995. You can also fill out an application here and drop it off at the Belton Police Department.

People interested in becoming a volunteer for the RU OK? Program must first go through the Belton Citizens Police Academy.

The Belton Citizens Police Academy is an annual program that meets on Thursday nights from January through March with a goal of enhancing police and community partnerships.

More information can be found here.