Meals on Wheels: More Than Just a Meal
Writer / Liz Hobbs
From the moment I walked into their office, I knew Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County was a special organization. One of their volunteers, a young man of 87 years of age named Chuck Layton, greeted me at the door.
In between the jokes and the broad smiles, Chuck told me that he’d been delivering meals every week for the last eight years. As I would come to learn, Chuck’s passion for the organization’s mission is one that is shared by all of Meals on Wheels’ volunteers.
A large part of Meals on Wheels’ mission is delivering meals to residents within Hamilton County who have difficulty preparing their own meals. One misconception of the organization is that individuals must have a financial need in order to receive services.
According to Sandy WeWora, Director of Volunteer Services for Meals on Wheels, over 50 percent of clients pay for meals without any financial assistance. “That is the most challenging aspect of what we do. There are many people out in the community that could probably use our services but aren’t aware of it or don’t understand what the qualifications are.”
Also individuals who qualify for services don’t necessarily have to be long-term clients. Sandy is quick to point out that patients returning home from a surgery rehabilitation center or an extended hospital stay could qualify to receive services from Meals on Wheels.
The minimum commitment for delivery of meals is two weeks, and a number of Meals on Wheels’ clients receive meals simply because they are recovering from a surgery or a serious illness. However, because most individuals are often long-term clients, the volunteers who deliver meals tend to develop a rapport with their clients.
Sandy shared a story of a volunteer who came to deliver a meal and found her elderly client sitting alone in a cold, dark house because his electricity had been turned off. The volunteer not only called the electric company to help get the power turned back on, but had her husband stop by the client’s home after work to make sure the power had been restored and check the breakers in the basement. Meals on Wheels then reached out to the client’s family to let them know what had happened with their father.
As Sandy points out, “Our volunteers really care….we are the eyes and ears for the families, going in, checking in on Mom or Dad every single day.” It is that level of care and commitment from the volunteers that makes Meals on Wheels more than just a meal.
Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County is always looking for new volunteers and welcomes donations of financial support and participation in their annual fundraising events. Please visit mealsonwheelshc.org.