Food service director takes good taste beyond The Oaks
April 5, 2018 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer
Roy Dickson doesn't let anything stop him from giving a smile, warm greeting or comforting advice to those around him who need it most. His steadfast heart shines through his actions.
The Orangeburg resident has served as the food services director at The Oaks for the past 11 years. On three days each week, he undergoes dialysis at 5 a.m. before heading into work.
Dickson, who is also a cancer survivor, said it's important that he doesn’t stop his daily routine because he enjoys doing for others.
Not only does he provide food for the residents of The Oaks, all of whom he considers family, but he volunteers his time and chef skills and donates money to a variety of different community causes, including Into the Mouth of Babes, Healing Species, the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Foundation and the Regional Medical Center Foundation.
Dickson’s persistent purposefulness has earned him designation as the exemplification of perseverance as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
“I just was not expecting that. I’m not one that goes out and promotes myself to other people. I just enjoy doing for other people. I hope that more people would be like that, especially the kids,” Dickson said.
The 74-year-old has done a lot of mentoring and other activities with area children, including those at Mellichamp Elementary School in Orangeburg.
“I know how to decorate cakes. So I would get a full sheet cake, put all the icing in bags and do different things and then head over to the school. I’d get them in the cafeteria, show them how I decorate a cake and how I make the flowers, and then we’d all eat it. The kids loved it,” Dickson said, adding that the students were also provided a fine dining lunch experience in The Oak’s Magnolia Room.
He also donates money for Into the Mouth of Babes to ensure that children have a nutritious meal on weekends after leaving school, he said.
“There are a lot of people involved in that in this community to make sure that these kids have something to eat over the weekend. I think that’s just wonderful," Dickson said. "I help the OCtech Foundation with their Fine Wines & Foods event, and this year I’m speaking at their Home & Garden Symposium on May 9 to help raise money for the Foundation."
In addition, he has helped the RMC Foundation with its annual gala for the past three years, he said.
“I’m real excited to do anything I can for this community to enhance it,” but it is his job at The Oaks that gives him special joy and fulfillment, Dickson said.
“This job is the most important thing to me. When I came to work here, I commented to the CEO that I wanted to treat the residents the way I would have wanted someone to treat my mom and dad. I have a great relationship with our residents," he said.
“We have laughs and have a good time. They’re wonderful and make my day,” Dickson added.
He values his food service staff at The Oaks, and he makes sure he puts out quality food even in the midst of natural disasters such as hurricanes and ice storms, he said.
“We don’t miss a beat ... . I go to dialysis three mornings a week at 5 a.m. and then I come to work. You just don’t stop. You just don’t give up,” he said, noting that it is important that he keeps living even during his own bad days.
“I think it’s so important to continue to live, be with people and get out. I go to the mountains. I flew down to St. Croix ... . I look at this dialysis as a part-time job that I have to go to three days a week,” Dickson said.
He said he is thankful to God for his blessings, including a home to live in, his ability to care for himself and his family.
“My family’s huge because it includes not only blood family, but friends that I consider my family …. . I’ve just had a good life,” said Dickson, a former regional sales manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines who has traveled all over the world.
After living in Miami for many years, he returned to his hometown of Orangeburg in 1986.
He said to him, perseverance means “not giving up, being happy with what you have and continuing to strive for a better life for you and the people around you.”
“And I think it’s important to encourage people. You’d be surprised the number of people that come to me and say, ‘I may have to go on dialysis.’ I sit down and spend time with them. I tell that it’s not great on some days. I’ve had some bad days, but I don’t stop," Dickson said.
“I’m so proud that I’m 74 years old and am on one medication. Is that not unbelievable?” he said, smiling.
Dickson said his perseverance enables him to provide not just food for residents at The Oaks, but an enjoyable dining experience.
“We have special events, fine dining, different parties and little get-togethers, and I always supply the food. Nothing makes me happier than to see them happy," he said. "Those are the things that keep you going."