An 81-year-old man lives to help people, but he never thought the work he does would involve face masks, gloves, and social distancing. The man's up to the challenge, and someone very important is sometimes along for the ride.
"My name is Winston Burkett, but everybody knows me as Buddy, and that's the way I like it," Buddy smiled.
"The routine!" laughed Buddy, stepping out of a car with a little dog running toward him. "Where's the puppy at? You want your treat?"
He handed the little dog a bone.
Buddy's never stopped looking after people.
"The entire route house-to-house is 72 miles," he said.
Buddy pulled stacked boxes of frozen meals out of his car. A mask covered his face, and he wore gloves.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm alone," said a woman talking to us through her door as Buddy approached her house with the meals. "Then I think, no, I am blessed to have him."
Operating through Community Church of Hendersonville, Buddy delivers for Homebound meals.
"They'll even tell you, the meal is not the most important thing. It's that visit," said Buddy, referring to the people he sees on his route. "Before the pandemic, we were delivering a hot meal to them each day. Now, once a week, we take them five frozen meals. They didn't want any more contact than they had to."
Just as Buddy looks after these people, there's another person always on his mind. While he may be known as Buddy to most, to this person he's Paw Paw.
"That's Morgan, my granddaughter," he said, just before walking out onto a porch with her. "She is autistic. She is my world. She's my darling."
Like some people with autism, a schedule is important to Morgan, which is hard to maintain in an uncertain, unpredictable time. Buddy helps provide structure for Morgan, taking her with him every Tuesday to help deliver meals.
"She calls that the white comfy car," he laughed, referring to the car he takes on the route.
You help as long as you're able. Those are the words to live by from one Winston Burkett, also known as Buddy. Also known as Paw Paw.