OPINION COLUMNS

Program needs community’s help

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, July 4, 2015
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Summer brings back many childhood memories for me.

Baseball games.

Vacations.

Snow cones.

Swimming.

But I also remember participating in something a little more charitable: delivering meals to seniors in my community.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Actually, it was my grandmother who was delivering them, and I went along occasionally to help. We’d stop by the senior citizens center there in my hometown of Itasca. Inside, the kitchen would be buzzing with activity.

The meals would be packaged in containers and loaded into the car. We’d then deliver those meals to homes around town.

Those memories surfaced when I received an email last week from the new executive director of Wise County Committee on Aging, Craig Maroney. WCCA operates the Wise County Meals on Wheels program.

While my small hometown only required a handful of volunteers to keep the program running, Maroney’s task is a bit more challenging: serving the hunger needs of seniors around the county.

It’s not a small task.

WCCA currently operates with five volunteers and two staff members who deliver approximately 71 meals per day through four routes. Not all volunteers are available every day, meaning delivery time can sometimes take three to four hours to complete, the maximum time allowed under their federally funded nutrition program.

His goal is to find eight volunteer drivers who can deliver daily Monday through Friday on the following routes:

  • One volunteer for Boyd (10 homes)
  • Two volunteers for Bridgeport (16 homes)
  • Two volunteers for Decatur (19 homes)
  • One volunteer for Chico and surrounding area (10 homes)
  • One volunteer for Paradise and surrounding area (6 homes)
  • One volunteer for Newark/Rhome and surrounding area (9 homes)

If they can achieve their goal of eight volunteers daily, Maroney calculates that the meals can be delivered within one-and-a-half hours and relieve the paid staff to focus on other program goals such as congregate meals, senior benefits seminars, community outreach and awareness and fundraising.

But perhaps even more importantly, the extra volunteers can deliver something equally beneficial to local seniors: extra time to check on their well-being.

I can remember the smile on the faces of so many of those seniors in my hometown when we’d deliver the meals.

For many, we might be the only human contact they would have the entire day.

If you’ve got the time to serve, and the desire to bring a smile to the face of local seniors, WCCA would appreciate the help.

Volunteers must be licensed, insured, pass a background check and be at least 18 years old. Training and orientation is provided.

Call 940-627-5329.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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