Volunteer Spotlight: Hilton Whitaker
Hilton Whitaker was and still is a contender. After a 17-year boxing career, he is a boxing judge who travels the world to judge professional fights. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Whitaker grew up amidst gang violence. The 68-year-old says that while he definitely learned how to fight, he wanted more out of life.
He served in the Army from 1960-1963 and joined the US National Boxing Team afterwards. In 1966, he was crowned “New Jersey State Champion” after winning the title fight. After retiring from professional fighting in 1972, he worked for New Jersey Transit as a bus driver for 30 years. When his wife passed away in 2009, Whitaker moved to Charlotte to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren.
The men are so grateful. The Shelter is their lifeline and they don’t take it for granted.”
Between judging fights and babysitting, he finds time to volunteer at Tryon Street Campus three times weekly to help prepare breakfast and lunch. Whitaker shows up at 4:30am sharp on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. “God just put it in my heart that I needed something to do after I retired,” says Whitaker. And the guests and staff are very glad about that. Kitchen Manager Chuch Thompson and Sylvester Huff call Whitaker “Chef” and “let him run the show.” “They act like I’m doing them a favor, but it’s the reverse,” says Whitaker, who says he feels very humble to be able to give back.
Whitaker says the best part of volunteering at MSC is the reception he gets from the men who stay here. “The men are so grateful,” he says. “The Shelter is their lifeline and they don’t take it for granted.” In addition to helping in the kitchen, Whitaker provides guidance and support by listening “when they just need to blow off steam.”