If you go to the Bill Bartley Family YMCA in Wichita Falls in the afternoon, it's likely you've talked to Harold Decker. He gives out words of encouragement; lifting spirits as members come and go. It's his warm welcomes that make him this month's Newschannel 6 Community Service Champion.
"He has such a true spirit of joy and he has such a desire to share God's love and he does that by sharing his good attitude, spirit and nature. He just really brightens our day," Noel Filer said.
Mr. Decker was born and raised in Wichita Falls. At 94 years old, there are many things Mr. Decker can no longer do. But, there is still one thing he deeply enjoys and does very well.
"I greet everyone who comes in from the youngest to the oldest," Mr. Decker said.
"He never meets a stranger. He is one of the most outgoing people. He makes everyone feel welcome and is so open with himself. He shares his love for God and everybody with people," Nancy Cleveland said.
Just about every afternoon for the past 18 mo. Mr. Decker has sat near the entrance of the YMCA, greeting those who pass. It may be with a friendly hug, a hand shake or just some kind words.
"They can change your day. They can change the way you look at the world when somebody actually talks to you. We live in a world where people don't want to converse, and they don't want to share themselves and they're doing their own thing," Cleveland said.
She has known Mr. Decker her whole life. In fact, he even knew her great grandparents! They both go to Trinity United Methodist Church where she said, over the years, he has served in nearly every leadership role.
"He's just always been there. He's one of the constants in my life. When you get to be as old as I am, there aren't a lot of constants left. So, he has been a constant in my life and I am truly thankful for him," Cleveland said.
Whether at church or at the YMCA, spreading love to others is something Mr. Decker always looks forward to.
"I hope it makes their day and brightens their day. That's what I'm trying to do and show them that God loves them and I love them and maybe that will brighten their day," Mr. Decker said.
Based on the reactions, it seems to be working.
"When I started out, less than 10% would even pay attention to me and now it's 99% who talk back to me," he said.
"One of the things I love about Mr. Harold is he gives all that he has to give: love, joy, happiness, his good spirit and that means everything," Mr. Decker said.
Each month, Newschannel 6 is recognizing one person who goes above and beyond in our community. In November, we will hold a banquet honoring those chosen and we will announce our Community Service Champion of the year.
If you know someone who is deserving, click here.