Ron Schneider finds happiness in a Lazarus House classroom in Lawrence holding a screwdriver and repairing sewing machines.
Schneider plays a key role in the commitment by Lazarus House that every graduate of its sewing training program receives a sewing machine. Schneider, a retired tax accountant, is among those responsible for that gift.
“As a tax accountant, I worked in an office without people,” said Schneider, of Tyngsborough. “I love working with people and this is a labor of love.”
It was serendipity that brought Schneider, who said his repair skills are self-taught, to Lazarus House, recalled Marcy Furse, Coordinator of Volunteers.
“We had been seeking a sewing program volunteer with his unique talents for over a year,” said Furse. She met Schneider after a church service and happened to ask what his favorite volunteer work had been.
His answer was the gift Furse had been waiting for: Teaching sewing to refugees.
“Following our meeting on a Sunday morning, he and his wife Debbie were at Lazarus House first thing Monday morning!” said Furse. “That incredible responsiveness was my first glimpse into his amazing heart of service and community dedication. His faithful commitment has allowed our sewing program to accept additional students and continue to flourish.”
In addition to its sewing program, Lazarus House fights poverty in the Merrimack Valley with a food pantry, soup kitchen and emergency shelter.
Schneider, who is self-taught, said the students are sometimes amazed at how much they learn, often enough to start a sewing business. He is happy to play a role in their success.
“It is very gratifying. I find the people at Lazarus House are genuinely grateful,” said Schneider who is glad he still has much work to do.
“I have a basement full of sewing machines that need repair,” Schneider said. “Perhaps 30 of them.”