Volunteer says work benefits county & self

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

“It gives me a good feeling when I wake up in the morning,” said Paul Wells, a volunteer at the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office since January 2007. “I get to do something different every day.”
Before coming to Ripley County, Wells worked as the director of facility operations in the health care industry in Cincinnati for 35 years. He tried retirement once in 2002, but he said, “I didn’t like it.” He left retirement to go back to work.

“Then I got sick,” he said. Heart problems kept him from working for a time. When he was ready to return to the work force, he learned that some of the medicines he was taking might prevent him from getting a job.

Unable to tap into his pensions for several months, and with two children still at home to take care of, the single dad was forced to sign up for public assistance in Cincinnati. According to Wells, the program requires the applicant to do some type of work or volunteer every day. He found himself stuffing envelopes with a room full of women.

“But, I wanted something constructive to do,” said Wells. “My goal was to take care of my kids and have a feeling of self worth.” It was suggested that Wells volunteer somewhere. After calling local high schools and the YMCA, Wells called David Pippin at the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office, asking if there were any volunteer positions available. It was then he learned that the sheriff’s office needed a maintenance person.

“After his call, I cleared it with then Sheriff Bill Davison,” said Pippin. “Initially, he (Wells) was to volunteer for nine months, until he could receive his pensions.”

Wells worked on various projects during those months. “But I got to liking it,” he said. When his retirement benefits were available, he continued to travel from Cincinnati to Versailles to spend his time at the sheriff’s office. “I don’t need money,” said Wells. “I like helping people.”

According to Wells, besides his work at the sheriff’s office, he helps to maintain the vehicles for the Indiana State Police and the towns. He also supervises the trustees, also known as victors, when they perform services at the fairgrounds and various other places in the county. Victors are inmates who have committed non-violent crimes.

“He (Wells) can do anything and everything,” said Pippin. He said his volunteerism has saved the county an untold amount of money.

Working at the sheriff’s office has also given Wells insight to the work that the sheriff, deputies, and the jail employees do on a daily basis. “You become more aware of what they do on the job,” he said. “It makes you more appreciative.”

“You don’t just work for these guys,” said Wells. “They are just like family.” He said does not feel like a volunteer, but rather like a regular employee who is included in the meetings and planning sessions. “It feels good to have people to express their appreciation, too,” said Wells.

He is also appreciative of the opportunity that was given to him. “It’s a joy to work with Sheriff Tom Grills,” said Wells. “He trusts me enough to know what I’m doing.”

Wells also has a sense of humor, and is known to be a practical joker. Sometimes, the tables are turned and a joke is played on him. “I like humor. It adds joy to my life,” he said.

“It’s better to do something nice for someone than have someone do something nice for you,” Wells said of his philosophy of life. “Pass it on.”

The dedicated volunteer has no plans to stop working any time soon. “I’ll be here as long as they want me,” he concluded.

Paul Wells, volunteer at the Ripley County Sheriff's Office, helps to maintain the vehicles as well as other maintenance needs in the building. Sometimes known as "007", and always known as a practical joker, Wells is a pleasure to be around, according to Captain David Pippin. "He's always laughing and smiling. He lights up a room," noted Pippin.