On any given night, ball-hawking defensive back Deonte Bolden is often front and center in every play unfolding on the football field.
He can intercept a quarterback and tote the rock to the house for six, or he can come up with a game-changing turnover or plant himself in an opposing receiver’s face.
But off the field, Bolden’s whereabouts provide quite the distinction.
“I’m the middle man,” he says.
Actually, he’s a social worker, and when he’s not wreaking havoc for opposing quarterbacks, he is busy serving others at South Tampa Health and Rehab Center, primarily caring for the facility’s geriatric population.
Among his duties there are participating in interpersonal activities with residents, serving as an advocate on behalf of the residential population, and acting as a liaison between the facility’s management staff and the residents currently living at the home, hence his self-declared occupational title.
“I’m kind of like Red from [the movie] Shawshank Redemption,” Bolden said. “I always joke with them and say I’m the guy who can get things for them.”
Like the time one of the residents forgot her glasses and appeared distraught as a result of not having them at a time when she needed them most. Rather than having the resident go and look for them herself, Bolden, along with his supervisor, went to retrieve the glasses and brought them up to the individual’s room for her.
Bolden recalls that while that act in particular may serve as just a small sample size of the work he does, it nevertheless paints an accurate frame of reference for his passion to help others, which is only reinforced by the positive feedback he receives from each and every individual he assists.
“It’s very rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and to know that some of the things you do, as small as they may be, could be one of the bright spots of their entire day,” Bolden added. “A lot of people take stuff like that for granted, so it’s humbling.”
Bolden considers himself as a student of people, just as much as he is a student of the game of football.
Upon graduating from Carson-Newman College (Tennessee) with a degree in psychology, Bolden wasted no time in applying the lessons her learned from text books and lectures to real life.
Prior to his employment at South Tampa Health and Rehab, Bolden served as a physical education assistant in Pinellas County where he worked with kids in teaching them the importance of physical fitness, as well as instructing them in how to play a various number of different sports.
When an opportunity, however, to remain at the school didn’t pan out, Bolden not only crossed county lines to arrive at his current job, but also spanned numerous generations in terms of the populations he served.
In fact, the distinction between the two couldn’t have been more different, but as Bolden reaffirmed, there is truth to the old notion that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
“The ages are different, but no matter how young or old you are, you have to understand that they’re still people and you still have to have compassion,” Bolden said. “That’s when you start to see the humility in people.”
The balance in dealing with individuals both young and elderly is not far off, Bolden says, from the way that he juggles both his football career and his off-the-field employment as a social worker.
While the schedule at times may be challenging, Bolden reminds himself that he is in the business of helping people, whether it be his teammates on the gridiron or the geriatric population off of it.