ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County Meals on Wheels customers on Monday received plates from Pattan’s Downtown Grille courtesy of a long-removed resident.
Mark Parris, who currently lives in Seattle, Washington, paid for 220 meals comprising barbecue, beans, coleslaw and a roll.
Parris said he wanted to do something to help Richmond County, where he was raised.
“There’s tons of people lining up to give money to places … and I wanted to take the little bit of money that I can do something with and help out in places where I think it can really have some big impact,” Parris said. “And the first place I thought of is my home.”
Parris and restaurant owner Tim Pattan are cousins and both went to school with Richmond County Aging Services Nutrition Director Kim Partin.
Following his graduation from UNC-Charlotte, Parris started working in 1993 at Microsoft’s Charlotte call center providing product support for the spreadsheet program Excel.
The following year, he applied for another job within the company and moved to Seattle. During his time with Microsoft, Parris also spent more than two years in England before moving back to the states.
Parris, a software engineer, left Microsoft in 2017 and went to work for the startup Chef Steps, which was acquired in 2019 by kitchen appliance manufacturer Breville.
“He’s 3,000 miles away and he’s 30 years removed but … it’s still his hometown,” Pattan said. “You don’t lose those roots, I guess.”
Partin said the agency appreciates the partnership between Parris and Pattan for providing the food, “and what a treat it’ll be for the seniors.”
Both Parris and Pattan were modest about their roles.
Parris said he had the easiest job cutting the check; Pattan said “we’re just the hired hands.”
But they both gave credit to Partin and her team of volunteers.
Partin said all of the Meals on Wheels volunteers showed up before 11 a.m. to make home deliveries.
Area of Richmond Transit helped out by delivering meals to the seniors whom the service usually picks up and takes to the meal sites at the East Rockingham, Hamlet and Ellerbe senior centers.
Those who are mobile were able to pick up their meals at the centers.
“I’m really happy that I could do something to help out Rockingham and Richmond County,” Parris said.