Five Questions: Clarence Shepard, Meals on Wheels

As Director of Senior Nutrition, Clarence Shepard is the man in charge at the Meals on Wheels Program in Williamson and Burnet Counties. His program serves food to hundreds every day, but his entire career has been about serving his fellow man in myriad human services roles. He is a good talker, but, more importantly, he expertly walks the walk that “We are all here to co-exist.” 

  1. What is your favorite thing about your job? 

Each day, when I leave here, without regard to the type of day we had, I know we have fed thousands of people. I’ve been in youth and other human services, and it is sometimes, literally, a thankless job. But even if no one says, ‘Thank you’, I always have a good day. 

2. What is the most challenging part of your job?

Over time, I figured out how to have a work-life balance. It’s important to separate myself from giving professionally, and recognizing people will always need something so I can’t always pull out my own wallet. I have also developed a knack for navigating those days and weeks knowing that no matter how much you plan, you never get it all done. But human services is about managing people’s needs, which never really happens on a schedule. With six sites across two counties, I’m pleased if I get about half of my planned work done and I am always satisfied that we took care of our clients first. 

3. If you could do any other job, what would it be? 

I would be either be an engineer or a jazz musician. I have the aptitude and inquisitive spirit of an engineer. I like to take things apart, but I think I have the soul of a jazz person. Unfortunately, the only thing I play right now is the radio. I took piano lessons when I was young, but you can’t take a piano to a party. I may take up the acoustic guitar to feed the jazzy part of my soul.

4. What are your plans when you win the lottery?

To see how long I can keep working. Then I would love to try flipping houses; that’s the engineer in me coming out. I’m handy and I like building stuff, so I’d like to give it a try. But I would have to do it right like the guys on HGTV; I don’t want to just be some dude who bought a house and put in new drywall. 

5. What surprises people about your job when you talk about it? 

That I like it. I know a lot of people in social services who prefer the “service” part of the job more than the paycheck. I feel like I’m stealing because I get paid to help others. I tell people it’s great to make a living, but I am glad I make a difference.