by Nancy Winckler-Zuniga
Originally published in the Florida Times-Union
There is a lipstick kiss imprint on Charlie Adcock’s hand, part of a goodbye ritual he has with his wife, Barbara, when they each go off to their volunteer sites.
“She says it’s to keep the other ladies away,” Adcock said, chuckling. It’s really part of the love that they share for giving back.
For nearly nine years Adcock has gone to the United Way of Northeast Florida offices to sort, file and organize paperwork and historical documents that record for posterity the work of the organization.
“I feel that if I do this, it replaces the time a paid person would have to spend,” said Adcock. He said that it enables paid staff to complete work that directly and positively impacts the community.
His first project with the agency involved categorizing jumbled boxes of photos that tell the story of United Way’s efforts to help victims of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Top officials of the agency, local celebrities and other volunteers joined forces, traveling to South Florida to help the hundreds affected. Photos of their efforts were quick snapshots printed at local retail stores and stored away as staff returned to commitments in Jacksonville.
“Because of those efforts, there’s a bond between United Way here and Homestead, Florida,” Adcock said. “I put together three albums of photos. There was so much destruction. Many of the photos show children and the teddy bears given to them.”
Adcock’s work as historian is a natural fit.
“In Maryland, I was a guidance counselor and Social Studies teacher. I did a lot of photography at the high school.”
Adcock’s interest in photography found him helping his students’ families record special moments. Helping students through difficult times and assisting them in connecting with their families were among Adcock’s most gratifying experiences.
After more than 20 years in Maryland, the Florida sunshine drew him away.
“I got sand in my shoes,” said Adcock.
Between working with Jacksonville University’s Upward Bound program and working as a guidance counselor for Duval County Public Schools, Adcock put in countless hours helping students succeed. Originally a high school counselor, Adcock found the bulk of his tenure helping elementary and then special needs children at Joseph Stilwell Middle School.
“Between 16 years in Maryland and 24 years in Duval County Public Schools, I put in 40 years in education. At 4:20 p.m. in October 2003, I retired,” Adcock said.
Adcock knew he wanted to stay active, so when he was asked to help with the archiving, of course, he jumped at the chance. He has since become an essential resource to staff, known for his wry sense of humor, research skills and was recognized in 2008 with the Ivy Summerlee Memorial Volunteer Award from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. He also received the 2009 Mayor’s Male Senior Citizen of the Year award for his contribution to improving the quality of life in Jacksonville.
Sharing keepsake kisses before they head out the door, the Adcocks remain committed to each other and the community they serve. As he combs through the slightly frayed photo albums and assembles staff manuals and she reads to Oak Hill Elementary prekindergarten and kindergarten students, Adcock looks down at the lipstick impression on his hand and smiles.