93-Year-Old Volunteer's Amazing Record Of Service and Commitment

When Rene Rodigou makes a commitment, he follows through. And then some.

And then some more.

It is a quality this 93-year-old native San Franciscan has demonstrated more than once in his life, most recently while volunteering at St. Anthony's Dining Room in the city's Tenderloin District.

"It's coming up on 17 years," Rene says. His record of service goes back quite a bit further, though.

Rene is a decorated World War II veteran. Moved by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Rene enlisted in the Marines the following year. He ended up serving eight years, participating in three different campaigns, and earning two Purple Hearts.

His next commitment lasted even longer. Rene met and married his wife, Maguerite, after returning from the war. They were married 68 years until her passing a few years ago. The couple raised five children in their Sunset District home where Rene, of course, still lives.

It should not have come to a surprise, then, to the people of Saint Anthony's that when Rene walked through their doors to volunteer in the late 1990's he would be around for quite some time.

Rene, however, wasn't so sure.

"I wondered what I was getting into," Rene laughs. The first job they gave him was pouring juice into glasses for the thousands of San Francisco's needy and hungry who stream through the doors of the dining hall each week.


It's all he has done ever since. St. Anthony's staff estimates that Rene, volunteering two-days-a-week, has poured more than three million glasses of juice over the years.

Rene's real value, they add, is impossible to calculate. His ever-present sense of humor buoys the spirits of staff and clients. His rock-solid regularity provides a great example for other volunteers.

The ever-modest Rene, though, downplays his contributions.

"I just like helping people."

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