"I want my obit to read: He lived. He died."
That's what Clay Rein of Minot has often been heard to say.
In reality, the modest Minot man has done many things and touched the lives of many people.
Clay Rein pours tea for Rachelle Small and her 2-year-old son, Jeremiah, during the community soup luncheon May 21 in All Saints Episcopal Church, Minot.
"There are people that do a lot more," he said.
Rein retired from his position of deputy county auditor in Ward County when he was 48 years old to stay home and take care of his mother 24/7 until she died.
Rein said, "I was too old to go back in the workfield after she died in 1988."
The first thing Rein started with was the YMCA, where he is on the board of directors, the aquatics board and the membership board.
"I work out and swim every day except Saturday and Sunday," Rein said.
Although all his "work" is important to him, the Homeless Coalition Board and the soup kitchen at All Saints Episcopal Church in Minot rank in the top two places.
"We are called to be of service to others and I just feel that these are two important entities within our community that serve people in such a wonderful way," Rein said. "It's very important. We are put here to be stewards of not only God's money, but also of his time and his talent."
One talent Rein has is taking care of terminally ill men who are homebound. He goes to their home and offers personal care to them. It may involve reading to them, watching a movie with them or just talking with them. The volunteer service has a two-fold purpose. He works on an on-call basis to relieve the families of the stress of taking care of someone in that situation. It gives the families a chance to go to a movie, a concert, shopping with their friends, whatever and it gives me an opportunity to learn from them.
"They (the terminally ill men) are closer to God than I ever will be in 10 lifetimes," Rein said. "Their strength and their faith are awesome. They minister to me as much as I minister to them. It's so humbling to be with them as they make the transition from life to eternity."
He is not affiliated with any caregiver group. He doesn't advertise his referrals come "just by word of mouth."
The time he spends with the men varies. It can range from a couple of hours to a day to an entire weekend. "It's a needed service to people. I don't charge for it. I just do it," Rein said. "There's enough things they have to pay for when they are in that situation. When you serve other people you get so much more back than you ever give."
Rein encourages others to just roll up their sleeves and dive in. If you see neighbors who are struggling and taking care of an elderly or sick family member, it doesn't hurt to offer to help, he said. The benefits are awesome, he added.
He volunteers at Trinity Nursing Home on the second and fifth Thursday of the month when St. Leo's Church has Mass there. "There's a group of us who take the patients from their rooms to Mass and back," he said. He takes Communion to those people who for some reason or other cannot attend the Mass.
The soup kitchen is awesome, Rein said. "I just love it. It's very social. I would have to say that's my first love," he added.
"I don't do anything," Rein said. "The ladies do the cooking and the serving. I just, well I guess I'm sort of like the welcome wagon. When people get there I give them a hug and pour them a cup of coffee or juice. That's all I do."
Alice Yeager, who helps serve the lunch, said, "He's God-sent. He really brightens up our soup kitchen."
Rein doesn't only work with people who need care or in the soup kitchen. He also teaches third-grade students who come to CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes at St. Leo's.
"That's been a real blessing," he said. "I don't relate to children as well as I relate to older people because I was taking care of both of my folks for 30 years. Children are kind of foreign to me. God has been saying to me, 'You need to teach. You need to work with children to bring your faith in God to the children and so I've been teaching for three years. It's been wonderful."
Rein's days usually start about 4:30 in the morning and end about 10/11 at night, depending on who needs help or what he is doing. "I wouldn't have it any other way," he said.
"I can't understand it when I hear people say 'I'm retired and I have nothing to do.' I have three calendars by my phone and then I run out of room there and put stickies on the fridge," Rein said.
"Anybody who says they are sitting at home bored I can't imagine," he added.
On a regular basis Rein likes to go to concerts, plays, play cards, Scrabble... He lives in a condo complex and gets together with others to play whist, Scrabble or any kind of a board game.
"I like to go to concerts. I have season tickets to the Minot Symphony (Orchestra), to the Mouse River Players , to the community concerts (International Artists' Series) and enjoy attending summer theater productions at Minot State University," he said. "Plus, one of the best kept secrets in Minot is the Arts in the Parks during the summer. Minot has a storehouse of things to do, if you're open... We have the Heritage Singers, the Nodakords, the Western Plains Opera Company, which has done performances as good as, if not better than, anything I've seen in Minneapolis in Chicago."
All those things to do and still he finds time to continue his education. He has a bachelor's degree in business and is pursuing a master's degree in pastoral care. That would mean ministering to the homebound, the sick and the dying, the homeless, wherever there's a need just as he is already doing.
"I don't ever expect to work to use it, I just want to prove to myself that I can achieve it," Rein said. "I might be 180 years old, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it and if I can do it, anybody can do it," he added with laughter.
"You don't have to be asked, you just see the need. Just like St. Francis said, 'Where there is darkness, let me sow light.' If you just look, there is plenty to do."