Meals on Wheels Rowan recaps month of celebrating volunteers

Published 12:04 am Sunday, May 1, 2022

SALISBURY — During April, Meals on Wheels Rowan celebrated its dedicated volunteers who support the organization by delivering meals, groceries and more.

Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver over 250 meals each weekday. In 2021, over 1,000 volunteers delivered 97,379 meals to homebound seniors across Rowan County. Meals on Wheels Rowan kicked-off Volunteer Appreciation Month at the “March on the Green” event on March 25 at Bell Tower Green in downtown Salisbury. Every volunteer who attended received a free hotdog meal provided by The Hotdog Shack.

“Volunteers do much more than deliver meals,” Program Director Sandy Combs said in a news release. “For many of our participants, a brief conversation during meal delivery is the only social interaction they get that day. Meal delivery is the key to opening the door to building a relationship with our participants. Volunteers let staff know if the participant seems unwell and alert us to any changes in condition or environment. This information enables us to connect the participant with other services they may need.”

Each volunteer received a special Meals on Wheels tote bag as a small token of appreciation.

“This month, we made sure we had plenty of treats and goodies available at the office for volunteers,” Combs said.

“It is a challenge to cover all 511 square miles of Rowan County every weekday,” Board President Tom Robinson said. “We recognize the mileage, money and time it takes our volunteers to ensure all participants receive their meals. Many of our volunteers go ‘the extra mile,’ to interact with participants. Some volunteers build special relationships with the seniors they meet. We are grateful for every volunteer and their service to our seniors and community.”

One Meals on Wheels Rowan participant named Margaret recently wrote: “The volunteers who deliver our meals each day are the
highlight of my day … I also was fortunate to meet a wonderful volunteer who lives in my neighborhood. She calls me to check on me, and I am so grateful.”

In addition to meal delivery volunteers, Meals on Wheels Rowan relies on a small group of grocery volunteers, many of whom also deliver meals. In April 2020, Meals on Wheels began the Grocery Program to provide grocery support for homebound seniors who can still prepare their meals but lack the financial resources, transportation or mobility to purchase groceries.

“We have a group of about 15 regular volunteers who shop for and deliver groceries to participants every other week,” said Diane Goodnight, the grocery program coordinator. “Grocery shopping is a great volunteer option for people who cannot deliver meals in the morning or need a more flexible volunteer schedule.”

For animal lovers, Meals on Wheels also seeks AniMEALs volunteers who can help transport participant pets to the vet.

“We recognize that not everybody has the time to deliver meals or groceries. Another way to support Meals on Wheels is by helping transport companion animals to local vet clinics. Sandy Combs added that volunteers could help with special projects. Several groups put together Breakfast Bags, Birthday Bags or donate special treats for our participants.”

Volunteers are always needed to deliver meals each weekday. Meal deliveries typically take about 1 to 1.5 hours. For those in the Salisbury area, meal pick-up begins at 10:30 at the Meals on Wheels Rowan office at 1307 S. Salisbury Ave., Spencer. East Rowan routes deliver out of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Granite Quarry. South Rowan routes depart from Mt. Zion United Church of Christ in China Grove, and Gold Hill routes depart from St. Matthew Lutheran Church. In the western part of Rowan County, routes depart from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Ulla and Cleveland routes depart from RHA in Cleveland. If you are interested in volunteering at Meals on Wheels Rowan, contact Sandy Combs at scombs@mowrowan.org or visit www.mowrowan.org.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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