Hands On - Paul Rabinowitz

Paul Rabinowitz - Midway Manor's Jazz Man

As he travels along the narrow, dimly lit corridors at Midway Manor, Paul Rabinowitz is steady and purposeful. In his right hand he holds a carrier of 10 hot meals; his left hand grasps a carrier containing the boxes of cold food. His focus remains unflappable as he spells out the particularities of each Meals on Wheels client. Paul has been delivering lunches to residents at Midway Manor for 14 years.

Paul has handed lunches to a multitude of clients over the years, yet he greets each one with individualized care and concern. “Mr. Johnson doesn’t like me to knock on the door,” he tells me as his fingers arrange food boxes inside of a plastic grocery bag. Paul checks his delivery sheet and navigates to the next client, who lives at the other end of the building. He doles out a warm smile and generous greeting to everyone we encounter along the way.

When we reach our destination, Paul raps loudly on the door with his knuckles. Mrs. Green opens the door, and Paul shouts, “How are you today?” The resounding conversation remains short, but the connection between the two is evident through the exchange of friendly nods and toothy grins. As the four hands belonging to Paul and Mrs. Green hold tight to her lunch, a single box of simple food bridges together a seemingly unlikely bond.

Born and raised in Charlottesville, Paul left to attend American University and then spent 18 years in Baltimore. He first volunteered with Meals on Wheels in Baltimore, over 30 years ago. Since that time, Paul has held different volunteer positions with several organizations, but he always seems to return to the work at Meals on Wheels.

Now, Paul typically volunteers to deliver meals with MOW of Charlottesville/Albemarle at least three days a week. “It’s rewarding here. It makes me feel good to deliver meals to those who need sustenance,” he states, “I’ve always enjoyed checking in with the clients—laughing and talking with them.”

His commitment to the clients and his willingness to volunteer granted Paul an impressive award: Volunteer of the Year 2014-2015. Apparently, this was not his first volunteer of the year award—he received the same accolade while serving in Baltimore. Paul’s commitment to service is obvious.

Less obvious, though, is Paul’s love of music and poetry. When he is delivering meals, his determined focus comes across as intense and serious, but as soon as he begins talking about the arts, his demeanor becomes smooth and easy, much like his favorite music. Paul is a jazz man. He listens to the sweet sounds of Miles Davis, Chick Corea and George Benson. His music playlist is complemented with other genres as well—classical, blues, and rock and roll. Paul is a connoisseur of melodious notes, sometimes even creating his own on his electric keyboard. He writes poetry as well.

When it comes to the written word, Paul’s favorite authors carry diverse, yet poignant, voices. He can be caught reading Maya Angelou, Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Frost. Not coincidentally, Paul’s life is a reflection of Angelou’s words: “The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think.”

Paul has certainly been a rainbow to the homebound residents of Midway Manor.