He has led exercises, conducted a sing-along, given a weather report and informed those gathered of what is on the lunch and dinner menus.
“Now, we are going to talk about Jesus,” Eric Lynch tells a group of a little more than a dozen residents of Orchard View Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center on Williams Road in Columbus.
They have come together on this morning in the facility’s multipurpose room featuring a television, piano and dart board.
A volunteer at the facility, Lynch, who turns 87 in May, will read from the Bible and direct the singing of Christian hymns such as “How Great Thou Art.”
“God is good,” he tells his audience. He will ask biblical questions, but there is no prize except satisfaction for a correct answer.
A resident prays for peace for the nation and especially his hometown.
Lynch began doing his volunteer work 19 years ago at Muscogee Manor in Columbus following retirement.
“I asked the lady if they accepted volunteers. When she said yes, I told her I would like to volunteer for life,” he said. “I did not retire to sit down and die.”
Besides, he feels volunteering is something expected of him.
“Without God I could do nothing. I believe God put this in me to do. It is a duty for all of us,” he said, adding that when he takes a rare vacation trip, “mentally I am still here.”
There is no pay.
“The smiles of the residents are my paycheck,” he said.
He loves coming to the home.
“A lot of people are lonely. I thank God I don’t have to work. Being out here with these folks is a blessing to me and for them,” he said.
Lynch has the energy of someone 25 years younger. At a brisk pace, he rolls patients in wheelchairs from their rooms to the meeting place, singing as he goes along. He has a huge smile that never seems to leave, as though tattooed to his face.
To start the activities, he has everybody sing a song, “Good Morning to You,” done to the tune of “Happy Birthday to You.”
“I want them to get connected immediately,” said of the people he calls family.
He vigorously leads exercises much of it done to calypso music. Passers-by find themselves dancing in the hall to the beat.
“Move it. Move it. Come on and move. Do it harder,” he shouts to the men and women as he moves back and forth. The sound of laughter is a sure sign of the group’s enjoyment.
“I try to keep them motivated,” he said.
Lynch is a native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. His mother died when he was 8 years old. At 18, he was drafted into the Army.
“I got a letter from President Truman,” he said, smiling.
He trained in Puerto Rico then served overseas in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was stationed in Germany before coming to Fort Benning and retiring here after 30 years and 16 days with the rank of sergeant major.
He became a billing engineer for the Montgomery Ward a department store, but after 17 years, he said “enough is enough.”
He and his wife Mildred have been married 32 years. He has five grown children from a previous marriage.
Lynch is an elder at Columbus First Seventh-day Adventist Church on Schomburg Road in Columbus.
He has stayed active despite a bout with prostate cancer and having 18 inches of colon removed.
Asked about doing all of this at his age, he replied, “age is just a number.”
He said he is “doing fine.”
How does he do all he does?
“I really don’t take medicine,” he said. “I exercise, eat right and praise the Lord.”