GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport man may be retired but you definitely won’t find him relaxing on most days. Archie Holland has more energy than many people half his age and a heart that’s filled with kindness and compassion for others.
Whether a person needs furniture, food, clothes or just a smile, Mr. Archie will find a way to help. That’s why he was named the 2018 Harrison County Volunteer of the Year and has been nominated for numerous other awards.
Many of his days are spent at Mississippi City United Methodist Church making needed repairs or handing out groceries to people in need of a little extra food.
Pastor Megan Becnel remembers the day an elderly woman called after spending the night sleeping on her floor. Her home was treated for bed bugs so the mattress had to be tossed.
“I get off the phone and call Archie and that morning, he had just loaded up beds. Within an hour, she had a bed, and was able to sleep comfortably that night,” recalled the pastor.
Another woman was trying to start over after recently moving to the Coast. She had nothing and needed help so Archie asked her for a list.
"The next day, I had four or five boxes for her to come pick up," he said.
Within a few days, the woman had everything else she needed to make a fresh start.
"Three to four times a week, I do pickups, especially in the warmer months," Archie said. "But I just love volunteering. It's what I enjoy doing."
There are so many other stories about people who have been on the receiving end of Archie's generosity. From homeless families needing a hand up to veterans needing a friend, to foster kids and neighborhood children, Archie helps in any way he can.
“One of the things that surprised me, and that I love, is how involved is he with the kids in his neighborhood, like small children,” said Pastor Becnel. “He was invited to the Grandparents Day at the school the past two years for kids he wasn’t necessarily biologically related to but had a great relationship with. They love Archie as much as I love Archie. I don’t know what we’d do without [him].”
"I just enjoy doing it," said Archie. "I love it because I like to see people have a smile on their face. It makes me feel good to see them happy."
Since 2016, Archie has worked with the Retired Senior Volunteer Services program as part of the RSVP Handyman Brigade. He has also helped disabled seniors and veterans with small home repairs.
Also on the list of organizations where Archie volunteers is Child Protection Services, the Homeless Coalition, and the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence. In addition to all that, he spends his time helping people with mental health issues, physical illnesses, and hospice patients.