Driver delivers smiles to seniors through Fifty-Five and Alive program
Bringing a smile to others’ faces is what drives Danville resident Kenny Griffith.
With that in mind, he drives others: Griffith drives a bus for the Fifty Five and Alive center, transporting seniors to the center at 975 Hustonville Road in Suite 23 at the Southland Shopping Center. He also delivers food to about 30 people who can’t get out as part of a Meals on Wheels program.
The 41-year-old calls it the “most favorite” job he’s ever had.
“I’m glad this job happened for me. I’m around people I want to be around — I’m around the public. I’m around people that have struggles, the elderly people that have a lot weighing on their minds, whether it be Social Security … If I can say something to make them smile or forget about that, whether it be for 20 minutes or whatever, then good. That’s what I want,” Griffith said.
He said he tries to keep people smiling while he’s there at the center, where he helps in whatever way they need.
“If they need me to do something, I’ll do it. It doesn’t bother me,” he said.
Keeping those seniors he visits smiling is something else that makes the job so enjoyable.
“If they’re having a bad day, and if I can walk in and in three minutes, make them forget about that, I’m happy. That makes me happy,” he said.
Griffith’s story begins in Lexington, where his family lived for the first few years of his life. His brother is deaf, which prompted a move to Danville, so he could attend the Kentucky School for the Deaf.
His early life wasn’t easy, which is part of why Griffith works so hard to make others happy.
“I’ve got a big heart when it comes to people … I wasn’t happy a lot as a child. I don’t want to see people the way I was back then, especially children,” he said.
At 16, just after getting his license, Griffith dropped out of school to go to work. His dad, Ernest, had a medical issue and couldn’t work any longer.
“It was life,” he said simply.
Griffith was working when he was hit while driving a moped. It broke both of his legs, his nose and his jaw.
“I couldn’t walk for close to a year,” he said. “Luckily, thank the Lord, there was a nurse behind me when it happened and she came to be with me.
“I’m lucky to be alive, honestly. I’m glad I am.”
After he recovered, Griffith returned to work. He eventually obtained his GED.
When he was young and his dad was still in good health, Griffith learned how to mow, helping the family patriarch as they mowed others’ yards.
“I’ve been mowing — 35-36 years I’ve been mowing,” he said. “The older I got, (my dad) taught me how to take care of yards.”
When his dad was unable to continue, Griffith worked on their yards.
“I got my work ethic from him. He was always doing until he couldn’t,” he said. “He taught me everything I knew as far as working goes.”
“I don’t regret dropping out of school and doing everything I did for him, and as much as I did for him. I don’t regret that at all.”
Griffith also works odd jobs for people.
“I know a lot of people in Danville and have worked with a lot of people. If I don’t know how to do it, I probably know someone who can,” he said.
Over the years working odd jobs, Griffith has held various full-time jobs, including working at a slaughterhouse for a few years; working at the Salvation Army for several years; and, most recently, working at the Hampton Inn, where he worked in maintenance.
His wife, Paula Griffith, also drives a transport bus — she drives for Bluegrass Ultra-transit Service.
“It’s probably her most favorite job she’s had for a few years,” he said.
He’s proud to be a father and grandfather, and always finds plenty of time to spend with the grandkids.
“I love my grand-babies to death,” Griffith said. “I’m their jungle gym.”
He said he’s not into hobbies much, but enjoys being able to do things for others.
“I’ve got everything I need.”
Griffith found out about the job driving for Fifty Five and Alive and said he knew it would be something he wanted to do.
“I knew I was going to be happy here. I knew this was a place where people needed somebody … to make them happy. It made me want to come here — I knew I was going to be able to hopefully put smiles on peoples’ faces,” he said.
He said the people are what make the job so great — the people he serves and the people he works with.
“The ladies I work with — I think the world of them. They’re all good and they’ve been nothing but nice to me since day one,” he said. “That makes for a good working environment if all the employees are easy to get along with.”
“I’m just me. Most people know me as a nutcase,” he said, grinning. “I just want to see people happy.”
Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.
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