To many, they’re known as the “legendary labelers.” To each other, they’re a team. For the last two and a half years, Mike Collison and Frank Young have spent their Mondays and Fridays volunteering with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, where they’re tasked with labeling egg cartons for distribution. Once the pair puts stickers on the donated eggs, which earned them their nickname, “they’re ready to go,” Young says.
The duo first met at the Enrichment Center, an art and education center based in Winston-Salem, for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The emphasis is on putting members into the community in volunteer positions,” he says.
Young, who is retired, came to the center as a job coach in spring 2017. Collison, coincidentally, arrived around the same time. A staffer connected the men with Second Harvest, and it was a perfect match.
Since they started volunteering at the food bank, Collison “has not missed a day,” Young says.
Collison says camaraderie is a big factor in his dedication to his work.
“I just love it, and I love doing it,” he says.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. In April, they received a Governor’s Volunteer Service award for perseverance in volunteerism. The honor stemmed from “their determination to be all-in and knock down any barriers” to best serve the food bank, says Caroline Boyd, Collison’s case manager at the Enrichment Center.
“Their teamwork and partnership is what truly made that work,” Boyd says. “It has turned into such a meaningful friendship.”
Young says Collison’s attitude and approach to their work has made each day exciting and fun.
“Mike is willing to try anything,” Young says. “Labeling is what we ended up doing, and we fit into the egg team. But if Mike is interested, he’s willing.”
Collison’s good sense of humor also plays a role.
“If you can’t laugh, you can’t be with Mike, because he’s constantly making the best jokes,” Young says.
“We joke around, but we’re serious” about what we do, Collison adds.
In addition to helping the community, they’ve helped each other out, too. During their time together, Young has aided Collison in getting to the food bank for their shifts. And Collison, who describes himself as a big Wake Forest University fan, has taught Young a lot about sports.
But Collison’s impact goes far beyond that.
“He’s been real helpful, real grounding for me,” Young says. “Mike has a good, friendly nature, and he’s introduced me to a lot of the students and people at the Enrichment Center. I feel more comfortable here than I have in many places.”
And the men have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
“I plan to keep doing it as long as my body will let me do it,” Collison says.