Charlie Wilson is still volunteering at The Salvation Army West Women’s & Children’s Shelter – and he is in his nineties! For almost three decades, Charlie and Luisa Wilson dedicated themselves to helping those in need every day by visiting and dropping off much-needed items at homeless and domestic violence shelters in Portland, Oregon. It all started with a passion that Charlie and Luisa shared for giving back to those in need. By trade, Charlie was a civil engineer, but in his free-time, he and Luisa collected blankets, pants, shoes, combs, food and other valuables and delivered bags by foot and bus to the children, women, and men in the shelters. When Luisa passed away several years ago, Charlie decided to continue this mission with the help of his children. He says he is trying to help keep others alive.
It all began when both Charlie and his wife Luisa were children, one in the United States and the other in South America. Both families, despite growing up in different countries and cultures, instilled the spirit of helping those in need in their children. When they met and were married, they carried on this spirit for nearly 30 years and maintained a very active role in the community. When Luisa passed away, Charlie continued to volunteer in the Portland community and at The Salvation Army’s West Women’s & Children’s Shelter.
Charlie says that he was an “understudy for a saint.”
After over 20 years, Charlie, now in nineties, is still a regular volunteer at The Salvation Army’s West Women’s & Children’s Shelter, a domestic violence shelter, where he fixes vacuums, makes repairs, helps as a Spanish interpreter and lovingly fills the role of friend, father and grandfather, a position these 42 women and children so greatly need filled. He is an inspiration and a support to every life he touches. Charlie plans to celebrate his 100th birthday with his friends there.
Many of the women and children at The Salvation Army’s West Women’s & Children’s Shelter have suffered from domestic violence, oftentimes from the men in their lives. They walk into the shelter with their guard up against men, but with every smile and encouraging word, Charlie breaks down this barrier and dispels this myth about men. He is a positive influence on these women and children who have never known what a good-hearted man is. Charlie gives them hope for a better future. Years after leaving the program, the women and children still remember Charlie’s kind heart.
Post contributed by Teresa Steinmetz, Director of Communications & Marketing at The Salvation Army Portland Metro Cascade Divisional Headquarter