How a hot meal and some smiling faces can mean the world to Colorado seniors
This is Clarence. He is 101 years old and he is still living in his home because of Volunteers of America Meals-On-Wheels. After 15 years as a Meals-on-Wheels client, the food delivered to him by Volunteers of America Meals-on-Wheels is still making it possible for Clarence to stay in his home and do the things he loves, like picking apples from the tree in his backyard.
Meals-On-Wheels staff members Kathy and Brooke told me about Clarence when they sat down to give me the Meals-on-Wheels low-down. Every day Meals-on-Wheels delivers and serves about 3,500 meals, which are made in the Volunteers of America kitchen and designed by a Volunteers of America Dietician. Approximately 1,000 volunteers deliver meals, greeting seniors and taking the meals directly into their houses.
Clarence is like many other homebound seniors who simply can’t make the nutritious meals that they need. For too many Meals on Wheels clients, the food that is delivered to them is the only meal they will eat in a day.
Meals-on-Wheels depends on volunteers and if there weren’t volunteers to make those deliveries some seniors literally wouldn’t eat, Kathy told me. There is currently a waiting list of people who need meals delivered, however there are not enough volunteers to deliver those routes.
Getting that meal, which provides 1/3 of daily dietary needs, is so important to maintaining clients quality of life, however the boosts to their spirits may be just as important. Brooke described how the food stops mattering as much to clients as the friendship they build with the volunteers delivering the meals.
Brooke gave me a little glimpse of what Meals-on-Wheels volunteers are saying:
“I frequently hear “you make my day” as I am many times the only person they see all day.”
“One of the ladies I see every week has trouble getting to the door and when she comes, she always has a big smile and she asks me to take her meal to the table because she can’t carry it with her walker. I’ll often say, “I hope you enjoy your meal today.” Her response is, “I know I will. Do you know why I know? Because I didn’t have to cook it!” Then a big smile! What an encouragement it is to me to see these folks every week!”
“I have a client who’s 98 years old and a poet. She invited me in so that she could share one of her poems with me. It was quite good and helped me to understand that I don’t serve “clients”, I have an opportunity to spend a few minutes with friends each week”
After hearing more stories than I can fit in this post, it was clear that Volunteers of America Meals-on-Wheels is such an important program that so many seniors rely on and is a program that is 100% dependent on people being willing to volunteer.
There are several ways to support Volunteers of America Meals-on-Wheels:
- TAKE A ROUTE: Taking a delivery route and helping Volunteers of America shrink the waiting lists of seniors needing meals is the most hands on way you can help. If this is something you want to do, email Brooke the Volunteer Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DONATE: $30 provides a whole week of meals for a homebound senior. Any donation you make to Volunteers of America will help ensure Meals-On-Wheels keeps running.