Power of 9: Super volunteer never takes a day off

Power of 9: Super volunteer never takes a day off

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Christopher Solite is a giant among munchkins.

He weaved his way to a small sink on the far side of a room at the YWCA's Istrouma Early Head Start. The room was bubbling with toddler coos and little kids wobbling here and there. Solite is a volunteer who repairs what is broken at the Head Start.

"I know you've got a little problem with the sink right here?" he asked the seated teacher who had three kids climbing into her lap. She nodded,"Yes."

"I'm gonna look at it for you, and uh, do what I do! "Solite said as he turned toward the sink.

The head start program is located at the Winbourne facility, which appears to be nestled next door to Hope Ministries on the same property. Solite's head was in a cabinet under the sink when he described the job.

"Right now, the drain is leaking. So whenever they run water The water's leaking underneath and one of my handles is broken. I'm in the process of fixing that right now."

Solite works at PCS Nitrogen in Geismar. He said he learned how to repair things while a mechanic for the U.S. Army. He was in the Army for 8 years.

As an operator at the PCS plant, he also needs that mechanical know-how. He said when he's not working, he's volunteering. He really enjoys helping people, but also the challenge of every new volunteer task.

Dianna Payton took over as CEO of YWCA Baton Rouge just six months before the historic flooding. She has seen Solite's personal power herself.

"Here we have a sink that's broken. We have a toilet that's broken and we have a gate that needs to be fixed. And he's willing, when he's off, to come in and help us," Payton said, showing just what Solite was doing that one day.

Solite stopped to read to the little ones in the Head Start before he drove to another YWCA facility on the property of Glen Oaks High School. We weaved through heavy machinery moving rubble as crews also have been gutting and cleaning up Glen Oaks High School.

Payton said Solite practically single-handedly cleaned out the Glen Oaks Early Head Start's T-building. He had his own utility trailer and used it to carry items he could not carry to the curb by himself. He worked for hours and hours. A small group came by one day to help for a few hours but left, and Solite kept working.

"I live in Prairieville," Solite said. "Water came in the neighborhood and flooded everybody's home around me. For some reason, it did not flood me. I looked around and saw all the stunned, blank faces, and felt I really had to do something!"

Solite said he did not have a boat, but he had a 4-wheeler. He used it during the flood to help carry the elderly, children and others to safety from the boats that were ferrying them to safety. Then he thought of the Head Starts he'd been helping.

"This building, we had water come up to about right here," Solite said walking into the Glen Oaks building and pointing to a spot three or four inches from the front wooden porch floor. "But this building sits about three feet off the ground."

We entered to see empty rooms. They're not just empty. The floors look clean!

"We're still in the process of, we took everything out," he said walking into the heart of the building. He described removing the furniture, carpets and everything. He sighed when he said he could not save any of the children's toys.

"[The cleanup] took about four days. Still I have the cabinets, I have to take those out because they're damaged. Trying to do it by myself, it's gonna take me a little time to get it done," Solite said about the building's kitchen.

But because it's Christopher Solite talking, you KNOW it's going to get done.

Power of 9's Super Volunteer award is sponsored by Capital One Bank, the Volunteer Center of Capital Area United Way, and WAFB.

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