Guest column: Meals on Wheels volunteers make a big impact

Published 12:11 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

By Rose Meeks Jones

Special to the Post

Meals on Wheels of Rowan (MOW) needs Volunteers! I’ve been working with MOW now for 6 months and the work they do is vital to the well-being of the homebound seniors in Rowan. Prior to becoming involved with the program, I just thought it was a small organization that occasionally delivered meals to shut-ins recovering from surgery or suffering declining health and that the meals were delivered by senior citizens … just a project for retirees. My perceptions were wrong on so many levels!

MOW provides so much more than what I thought! They have over 1,000 volunteers annually who deliver a meal and a friendly visit to our county’s homebound. A huge part of the program is that daily, friendly one-on-one contact when the volunteer delivers the meal to their home. This meal delivery also serves as a “safety check” and goes a long way toward helping their clients to not feel so lonely and isolated. Five days a week, MOW volunteers cover 27 delivery routes around the county providing well over 200 folks with food, conversation, laughter, hugs and so much more. There is no such thing as “just a volunteer” with MOW. Their mission couldn’t be fulfilled without all of these helping hands.

My first ride-along was in December, and it was an eye-opener! It was cold and gray but when we delivered a meal, faces lit up with smiles and I could see many of these folks were starved for conversation. With others still to visit, we’d have to leave before that need was completely filled. Often, we drove away with the rearview mirror image of our client framed in the doorway watching us depart. It filled me with the urge to go back and just sit and talk! I understand it isn’t uncommon for volunteers to form lasting bonds with their clients, visiting at other times, taking them small gifts and necessities, remembering them on holidays and birthdays, becoming true friends! I was hooked from that first ride-along!

Now you may think that MOW volunteers are all retirees just as I did, but their volunteers are a diverse bunch! They include retirees, business people who deliver during their lunch hour, parents who homeschool and bring the kids along, high school and college students fulfilling community service hours, Scout troops, realtors, college presidents, elected officials, pastors, high school coaches and principals — folks of all ages and from all walks of life. Many businesses and organizations regularly partner with them for meal deliveries such as The Arc of Rowan County, Food Lion, BB&T and Community One Bank of China Grove, home health care providers including Autumn Care, The Laurels, Trinity Oaks, Carillon and RHA Health Services. Forming another vital arm of their volunteer corps are over 57 churches throughout the county whose members regularly cover routes. As you can see, MOW is not the small organization I originally thought it was!

This letter is a shout out for volunteers! MOW is in need of more volunteers to cover their routes, especially in the southern parts of the county — Kannapolis, Landis and China Grove. If you are a member of a church or organization or even an individual in these areas and would be willing to volunteer they could really use your help! Maybe your small business, church or Sunday school class or even your book club could adopt a route! It doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment! Many MOW volunteers elect to deliver once a week or even just once a month! They are flexible and will work with your schedule, and it only ties up your day for about an hour or so at lunch time!

MOW would love to have you as one of their valued volunteers, and all are welcome. The only requirements are willing hands, open hearts and, of course, a vehicle! If you would like to volunteer, please contact their office at 704-633-0352 and they will put you in touch with their volunteer coordinator.

Please consider joining the MOW volunteer family! It’s such a small time commitment and can have such a huge impact, and not just on their clients! I guarantee you’ll become hooked, just as I have!