LEWISTON — At the Trinity Jubilee Center, Chris Medlar isn’t really thought of as a volunteer anymore. He’s just part of the team.

Starting a little more than a year ago, Medlar has spent each of his days off from his regular job volunteering at the center, serving meals and contributing other handiwork three days a week.

He even volunteered to work overnights during a stretch of extremely cold weather last winter when the day shelter began operating at night. After spending all night there, he’d go to work the next morning. 

He does it all despite having a full-time job for TD Bank, a wife and three children. Sometimes he brings his 4-year-old son in as well. Last week, he gave his son a click counter to count clients as they rotated through the meal line. 

“I want them to learn it’s not always about yourself. It ain’t always about you,” he said. 

Medlar and his wife moved to Maine four years ago. He’s originally from Philadelphia — he wears a backward Phillies hat — but lived in New Jersey before moving north. 

He and his family live on Bradley Street, and Medlar says Trinity is an important piece of the community. 

“I’m just happy I have that avenue to be a part of the community,” he said. “It helps keep you humble as a person, and see what it is you have.” 

While he brings his son in from time to time, his wife also worked as a waitress last year when the shelter did a special full-service Thanksgiving meal. Medlar said he gets goose bumps thinking about last year’s event, and that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. 

“The hair is standing up on my arms,” he said about how excited he is to be at Trinity on Thanksgiving. “It’s crazy.” 

He doesn’t know yet if the shelter is going to repeat the full service this year, but said no matter what, “I’m going to be here.” 

The center on Bates Street isn’t just a soup kitchen. It also serves as a food pantry, day shelter, resource center and operates a refugee integration program. According to its website, Trinity serves more than 1,000 people every week.

Depending on local donations, the center also orchestrates giveaways following its daily lunches.  

Trinity has three full-time and three part-time staff, meaning the center depends on roughly 70 volunteers, on top of the organization working with the Fedcap and Lewiston’s General Assistance program.

On Friday, Medlar was away from his normal duties prepping for lunch in the kitchen. Instead, the center needed some coverage supervising the office, so Medlar came in.

Sitting at the desk Friday was a young boy drawing on a piece of paper. Medlar didn’t know the child. His parents had come in to fill out applications and were working with a translator, and Medlar helped him pass the time. 

“I just treat them like I would my kids, give them something to do,” he said. 

Crystal LaChapelle, the kitchen coordinator and volunteer coordinator, said Medlar sort of fell into his role at the center.

TD Bank does an annual “day of caring” where staff members volunteer at various nonprofits in the area, and after Medlar’s turn at Trinity, he quickly informed his supervisors at the bank that he planned to continue volunteering as much as he could. 

“I said, ‘this is what I’m going to do,'” he said.

LaChapelle said when the weather turned frigid last winter, Medlar and other volunteers played a vital role, as Trinity “isn’t equipped” to be an overnight shelter.

“We couldn’t have everyone come to work being zombies so we had to have someone else do the nights for us,” she said. “He stepped up to the plate.” 

While sitting in the office, Medlar said he’s established friendships with some of the regular clientele there. 

At one point during his conversation with the Sun Journal, he paused and looked up, pointed to the wall, and said, “These walls, I painted them.”

Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

Chris Medlar volunteers at Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston three days each week. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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