"How's grandma doing?" I ask over the phone. It's been a few months since her fall, and it's been a slow road to recovery. She was grateful to be able to stay with my parents for a few weeks, but she was ready to be back in her familiar space. The only problem was, when she was one her own, she didn't really feel like cooking... or eating. And when she didn't eat, she didn't have any strength. So, before she returned home, her loving daughters said, "We want you to be able to be independent as long as you can. But here's the condition. You have to eat more."
We all knew this would be easier said than done. So when I asked mom a short time later how she was doing, I was surprised by the answer, "She's doing really good. She gets Meals on Wheels every day, and it really helps. She loves it."
My grandma is one of the strongest women I know. She's been the one to take care of others her whole life. It amazed me that something that seemed so small, having access to a nutritious meal, could have such a significant impact on her quality of life, and on her ability to be independent.
After talking with Lori Proud, director for the Springdale Senior Center, and the Springdale Meals on Wheels, I learned that this story is more common than you think. "It’s such a needed service. To me it’s a sad thing to think that somebody would have to choose alternative housing, being in a nursing home, just because they could not prepare themselves a hot nutritious meal."
Lori explained that while the primary goal of Meals on Wheels is to enable seniors to stay in their homes for as long as possible, the daily delivery made by volunteers is important for other reasons. "It’s so much more than a meal, because many of the times, we will be the only face they see in a day. You think that everybody has somebody, but there’s a lot of people that have nobody."
Lori says volunteers and staff members deliver meals to 177 homebound seniors in the Springdale area on a daily basis, many of them using their own cars and gas to make the deliveries.
John is one of those volunteers, who loves to offer help wherever it's needed. "I like the people I deliver to. They’re more like a family. We do thermostats, sometimes garbage, and newspapers... we do everything."
In order to continue meeting the needs of these homebound seniors, Lori explains the need for funding. "A lot of people think that we’re a government based program, but in reality we only get a little over 50 percent back from the government. So the other, 49 percent, we have to raise."
Lori says in order to make sure their needs are met, the meals are provided whether the seniors are able to make a donation for them or not. "So, that’s where our community comes in. All it takes to keep them in their home is 5 dollars a day. Think about what you spend 5 dollars on. Whether it be the specialty coffee, the specialty drinks, even your lunch. Could you pack a lunch and give 5 dollars and feed a homebound senior?"
Lori says in addition to financial support, local Senior Centers are always looking for Meals on Wheels volunteers to help with deliveries.
Joanne, who cooks for the Springdale Meals on Wheels program, loves getting to be a part of it. "People always say, 'bless you.' And most always they say, 'I had a parent, a grandparent, and… if not for you guys, they wouldn’t have been fed.' I do get paid to do my job, but I’d volunteer to do it too. It’s very rewarding."
You can learn more about Meals on Wheels by visiting the Springdale Senior Center Website.