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'Once you deliver, you're pretty much hooked' – Need keeps program looking for more volunteers

By Steve Huffman

Salisbury Post

Rita Sims said there are more than 900 volunteers who work to see that Rowan County’s Meals on Wheels runs smoothly.

And, Sims, executive director of Meals on Wheels, said they all have a different reason for volunteering their services.

Sims recalled one of the organization’s volunteers, a man from Landis, who donated his time because his aunt was discovered by a Meals on Wheels volunteer after falling outside her house.

Had the volunteer not come by, the woman would likely have died. That fact didn’t escape the woman’s nephew.

“He said if he could ever give back, he was going to,” Sims said of the volunteer.

Meals on Wheels of Rowan County is in the process of celebrating its 30th anniversary. Every weekday, volunteers from the organization serve meals to 220 homebound individuals throughout the county.

Requirements for being served by Meals on Wheels is that the individual be homebound, live in Rowan County and be unable to prepare a meal.

Sims said that on any given day, 29 of those volunteers will be working, picking up and delivering meals. Depending upon the part of the county to which they deliver, those volunteers can pick up their meals from one of three locations.

In Salisbury, meals are prepared at the Elks Lodge. In Cleveland they’re cooked at CJ’s Restaurant while in China Grove it’s the folks at Jimmy’s Restaurant who do the cooking.

Sims said a typical volunteer delivers to 10 to 12 individuals. The time commitment isn’t overwhelming, just a little more than an hour a day. Most volunteers work only one day a month and are typically paired with another volunteer.

“We’ve found it’s easier if one drives and the other looks,” Sims said.

She said that despite the large number of volunteers who serve the organization, there is always a need for more. Sims said the need is especially great at present in the southern end of Rowan County.

She said churches and businesses sponsor a number of volunteers, but some individuals do the job simply because they feel a calling.

“They come from all walks of life,” Sims said. “If you ask them, they’ll tell you that it’s a way of giving back.”

She said that the majority of volunteers say they can’t imagine not being involved with the organization.

“Once you deliver, you’re pretty much hooked,” Sims said.

She said that for a lot of the individuals to whom Meals on Wheels delivers, it marks the only time all day that they see and speak to someone.

“We’re kind of like the safety check,” Sims said. “We’re the friendly voice at the door.”

To learn more about Meals on Wheels or ask about volunteering, call 704-633-0352.

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