Unsung Hero: Howard Bliss, hunger prevention superstar

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BRUNSWICK — Claudia Adams, vice president of the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, thinks Howard Bliss is “awesome.”

“This guy does everything,” Adams said.

Bliss began helping out at what was then called the Food Bank in 1997, when he hauled boxes of food from the Hannaford Bros. supermarket to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Today, at age 82, he’s still going strong.

And when Adams says he “does everything,” she’s not exaggerating.

Here’s just a partial list of Bliss’ numerous volunteer activities on behalf of an organization dedicated to providing food to citizens in need: Doing intake, organizing food boxes for elders, keeping track of delivery records, making signs for upcoming events, picking up government food in Wiscasset, serving food to guests, establishing recycling guidelines and taking recycled items to a recycling center, making notices for upcoming Food Mobiles, and on and on.

Bliss also is a member of the board of directors of MHPP, and serves on the Volunteer Relations Committee and the Education Committee.

“Oh, golly. There are no words,” Annette Muttell, the soup kitchen coordinator for MHPP, said of Bliss. “Howard is engaged in everything we do. He is unbelievable, just priceless.”

Bliss is also on the board at the Bath Area Food Banks, as a representative from his church. His duties there include organizing volunteers to staff the Food Pantry; doing intake; keeping records of client visits, and more.

He has not always been a superstar hunger prevention volunteer.

Bliss spent two years in the Army during the Korean War, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, and then spent the bulk of his career at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, where he taught letterpress printing to students and oversaw most of the school’s printing requirements.

When you talk with Bliss about his immense contributions on behalf of hungry citizens in the Mid-Coast area, you learn that he gets as much as he gives.

“Every day is different,” he said, “and there’s no opportunity that I don’t look forward to. I really like getting to know the clients as human beings. They’re just like you and me, with the same fears and aspirations. “

One would think that Bliss has little free time to pursue other activities, along with spending good time with his wife Nancy, his two children and four grandchildren. But one would be wrong: he enjoys pastel painting, woodworking, boating, classical music and singing in his church choir.

Clearly, Bliss has discovered the secret of living a long and meaningful life. In fairness, he comes from good stock. His father Daniel, a Congregational minister who lived to be 103, wrote a memoir called “Two Worlds Apart: An American’s Intimate Account of Growing Up in the Arab World of 1902-1923.”

His father wrote the introduction to the book in 2001, when he was 101. So don’t be surprised if Bliss’ unselfish service continues for many more years.

Sidebar Elements

Howard Bliss, right, greets clients in Brunswick last week at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, where he is also on the board. “I love it,” Bliss said. “There’s something different each day and I’m always on the go.”

Unsung Heroes

One in a series of profiles by Brunswick writer David Treadwell about people who quietly contribute to the quality of life in greater Portland. Do you know an Unsung Hero? Tell us: heroes@theforecaster.net.