Richard Lipsey

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Richard_LipseyRichard Lipsey,75, a nine-year volunteer for the Salvation Army, gets just as excited about bell ringing for donations at Christmas as he does working on the advisory board and committees to guide the organization. The Ortega resident and his wife Cecilia, also a longtime SA volunteer, board and committee member, have made important contributions to the charity, according to Calanthea Hires.

“The Lipseys have both served the organization in so many ways, from bell ringing for donations to their board responsibilities and committee work over many years. They have been extremely active and important volunteers all over the organization,” said Hires, the Salvation Army Northeast Florida Area Command Volunteer Recruiter.
According to Lipsey, one reason he volunteers for the Salvation Army is because he knows firsthand that they use public donations frugally and wisely, with the least overhead compared to many charitable organizations. He believes that his volunteerism handling environmental assessments of donated and owned property for the Salvation Army is his most important contribution to the organization.

“I see them doing the most good in the community for the least amount of overhead cost, with the majority of money going straight to feeding, clothing, housing, training and rehabilitating hundreds of screened individuals. Many of these individuals and families are able to get back on their feet and go on to become successful in their lives,” he said. “The Salvation Army programs and methods really work and I have personally seen it.”

When Lipsey attends the monthly board meetings he is most impressed with the individuals who come to speak and describe their experiences going through the Salvation Army programs. In so many cases, according to Lipsey, the person finds a fresh start in life, after going through drug, alcohol or substance abuse, loss of employment, illness or other difficulties.

Lipsey, a forensic toxicologist, retired from his professorship at the University of Florida in Gainesville and relocated to Jacksonville in 1980. He continued to work in research and development for a chemical corporation, and although now semi-retired, he still handles approximately 20 cases every year as a litigation expert witness for hospitals and corporations. His other credentials include: CNN Contributor, adjunct professor, University of North Florida/OSHA Haz Mat Certification, Florida State College of Jacksonville – Institutional Occupational Safety & Health Former Chairman, State of Florida Licensed Mold Inspector, University of Florida Medical Center, Jacksonville, FL Poison Information Center, Clinical Toxicology Advisory Committee.

Cecilia Bryant, Lipsey’s wife of 26 years is an attorney in corporate law and finance. She has served on the Salvation Army’s Advisory Board and the Finance Committee approximately ten years. She also rings the bell for holiday donations with her husband and works as a volunteer in many areas. Bryant has served on the boards of many other organizations and corporations. She is the daughter of the late former Florida Governor C. Farris Bryant who served from 1961-65.

Ask Lipsey why he has given so many hours of his life to volunteering and he does not hesitate. “I saw President Kennedy’s speech on television, when he said, ‘…ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.’ I was the third of nine children in my family. I went to my mother and asked her which of us was going to join the Peace Corps. She said she thought it should be me and that’s exactly what I did,” he said. “I joined the Peace Corps and served in Borneo from 1963 to ‘65 where I replaced another volunteer. Only later did I find out that he had been killed there. I learned many things but most important was a broader understanding of human nature – that every life has equal value. There were natives who couldn’t read or write, wore loincloth and carried blow dart guns and head-hunting swords…in a Borneo jungle any education I had meant nothing…any one of them could save my life in that environment. I realized I was no more valuable or important than any one of them.”

The Salvation Army currently has urgent needs for volunteer individuals or groups to work in the food pantry, as office assistants for the pantry and to serve meals. Meals are provided to 150 needy and homeless individuals daily from 6-7 p.m. From October through December thousands of volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks, according to Hires, who said that training is provided and information is available on the website.

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