Phil Byrne: Eleven Who Care winner

10:28 AM, Jan 25, 2012   |    comments
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Phil Byrne is a lawyer by trade, but when he retired, he became both a doctor and a teacher.

"Doctor Phil volunteers at school. Is that a noun or verb?" asks teacher Laura.

Phil has volunteered thousands of hours at the Ronald M. Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning in St. Paul helping adult immigrants learn English.

"They need to learn English to help their families," reads one student.

The Doctor part? That's a nickname. It describes how easy Phil is to talk to, just like that Dr. Phil on T.V.

"He's able to put them at ease and they're very comfortable with him," says Vicky Kent, a former teacher and the person who nominated Phil for Eleven who Care.

You can find Doctor Phil in a classroom at the Hubbs Center three days a week, every week.

"He's my ideal image of a humanitarian, "says Vicky. "He's done so much for so many people. It's priceless. It's beyond measure."

It's not just time and knowledge that he gives. Phil donates some 200 books a week to the students.

"I get nothing at retail. Everything is from a thrift shop, and there is one place I go that I get a paperback for 20 cents, go on senior discount day and get 20% off," laughs Phil about his knack for getting good deals.

Phil's humility makes his efforts that much more impressive.

"I like Doctor Phil. He's a good man and a good person, "says Amina Muse, one of the Somali students in the class.

His pupils are not ashamed to brag on him.

"Very good teacher," says Halima Mohamed.

It's the spark in their eyes that keeps him coming back day after day, year after year.

"You go through it and you explain and all of the sudden, "I get it. Wow! I understand, I got it." and they go up about three feet in the air and that moment is so rewarding you just want to do it again," says Phil.

Whatever draws Phil to the Hubbs Center doesn't really matter, just so long as he keeps coming back.

"I can't imagine a higher level of dedication to people and to volunteerism," adds Vicky Kent.

 Click here for more on Eleven Who Care

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