2 Lessons We Can All Take Away From My Church’s Most Valuable Volunteer
Nearly five years ago, on May 7, 2010, Mary Mother of God Church and the entire Hillsborough, New Jersey, community lost a great man, Troy Conshue. I first met him in 2005.
Excuse the cliché, but to know Troy was to love him. If you met him once, he was forever your friend or, as Troy always put it, your “buddy.” He had no vices.
Troy was not a man of great athletic prowess, intellectual ability or financial means, the standards by which the world all too often measures success. But as MMOG’s Father Lance McGrath aptly noted, Troy was someone much more important than a sports hero or a great scholar – he was a shining light on a hilltop who inspired all he met with his incredible capacity for serving his fellow man.
No, Troy did not win any MVP awards for his exploits. But he was twice named Volunteer of the Year — once for his work with the Ironbound Ambulance Squad in his hometown of Newark and later at MMOG, where he was awarded an MVV trophy – Most Valuable Volunteer. He was a tireless worker. Well, almost tireless. Troy would sometimes take a well-deserved catnap amid the many long hours he spent volunteering. During our church league’s basketball season, it was not unusual for Troy to spend 12-hour days doing everything from selling candy to sweeping the gym floor to hawking raffle tickets, fueled only by his unquenchable desire to help — and several Gatorades and hot dogs.
Troy did not write any great scholarly papers or give any brilliant lectures. Yet he was a great teacher, someone who taught by example. His lessons were the best kind – easy to understand and relevant to everyone.
Lesson 1: When you need help, just ask.
Troy understood it was OK to ask for help. He didn’t need much, but when he did need something, he was never shy about asking. If he needed a ride (as he frequently did, for he always had some volunteer work to do), he would call as many people as it took to get one. Troy had tremendous self-awareness and understood and accepted his limitations. As a result, unlike many of us, he didn’t see asking for help as a sign of weakness. A smart man.
Lesson 2: When you want to help, don’t wait to be asked – just start helping.
Troy didn’t need an invitation to help; he simply jumped in with both feet and got right to work. And whatever he did, Troy did it always to the best of his abilities and always with a big, ever-present smile, a virtual billboard for the adage, “’It’s better to give than receive.”
Troy’s favorite volunteer activity was running the scoreboard and clock for basketball games. Grade school, high school, “over 30” games — he did them all. He’d sometimes work a dozen or more games a week. An often stressful job (so much so that volunteers are hard to come by), Troy took tremendous pride in his work, and he never missed a beat… or a whistle. He knew all the rules of timekeeping (schooled, no doubt, by his brother, Tyrone, who sometimes officiated while Troy was on the clock) and was quick to pass on his expertise to new volunteers. While the occasional clock malfunction brought consternation, frustration and puzzlement to the faces of officials, coaches and fans, Troy only smiled, ambled across the court and fixed the problem.
There’s so much more to tell about the remarkable Troy Conshue: his love of the New York Giants, how children, including his beautiful niece, Ericka, especially loved him, how he never once complained about his many health problems, his phone calls in the middle of the day just to tell you how happy he was. Troy simply lived to serve others, and all he asked in return was your friendship. A generous man.
Troy’s final weeks were not easy. But he fought the good fight to the end, ran the race to the finish and always kept the faith. Five years later, Troy, know all your many friends, young and old, will always honor your memory by their own acts of charity and will forever hold a special place in their hearts for their best buddy.
Each year Mary Mother of God CYO awards nondenominational scholarships to local high school seniors who have given back to the community through volunteerism and acts of charity. In the 2010, the scholarship was renamed in honor of Troy. Donations may be made to the MMOG CYO – Troy Conshue Spirit Scholarship Award, 157 S. Triangle Rd., Hillsborough, NJ 08844.
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