RICHMOND, Va. — There are individuals who dedicate their lives to helping people in need and then there is Eddie Baird.
Being selfless means a person is concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own — and that pretty much sums up Baird, who is a fixture at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Church Hill.
The quiet, soft spoken Baird takes volunteering to a new level.
“The church has always been a part of my life,” says Eddie. “At the end of the day what do you accomplish complaining? Nothing.”
Eddie regularly collects clothes for Catholic Charities. He gathers books for soldiers’ at Ft. Lee, collects baby items for mom’s in need on Mother’s Day and delivers DVDs to veterans at McGuire.
Eddie also serves coffee and donuts at services every Sunday, collects toiletries and reading materials for inmates, volunteers at the USO, cooks at Little Sisters of the Poor,, stands in the cold ringing bells for the Salvation Army and clears overgrown brush at an African-American cemetery and places flags on veteran’s graves.
“At least for this Veteran’s Day their grave was cleared and they had a flag,” says Eddie.
While each effort holds a special place in Eddie’s heart his most cherished moments come when he spends time with high risk inmates in solitary confinement most Friday’s at Richmond City Jail.
“I could have been there. I very easily could have gotten caught up in that. Very, very easily, so. Luckily, thank God I didn’t,” says Eddie.
Eddie says his sense of giving back comes from his parents and the Knights of Columbus. Eddie lives by one motto.
Eddie says, “The expression ‘If not us who? If not now, when?’”
Eddie, who is married, volunteers all while working a full-time job.
Eddie says, “Sometimes I overextend myself, but not usually.”
Fellow parishioner Jane Murphy marvels at Eddie’s dedication and says he is an inspiration for everyone at St. Patrick’s.
“Eddie is everywhere volunteering around town. He is everywhere for everybody. He is very quiet. Very humble. Would never do this for recognition,” says Jane. “I don’t know how he makes time for it all but he does. He is a really, really good guy.”
Eddie says he draws inspiration from Pope Francis who encourages people to help those on the fringes. Mr. Baird is taking that message to heart.
“If we could do all small acts of kindness. We could change, if not the world, maybe Richmond. If not Richmond, maybe your street,” Eddie says.
In the coming days Eddie will organize a back to school celebration at St. Patrick’s Church for the Boys and Girls Club in Church Hill.