Delivering food with a generous serving of friendship

Since 2002, the Meals on Wheels (MOW) program at Catholic Charities in Decatur does more than just feed and deliver meals to homebound senior citizens in Macon County; they also serve up something a few clients find even more nurturing than the food: companionship.

     “I really, really look forward to the visits,” Jim Jordan, 80, of Decatur says. “I know that without the food, I wouldn’t have a balanced diet, but my favorite part is seeing and talking with the people who deliver to me.”

     A senior who lives alone, Jim has difficulty with mobility because of paralysis in one leg. He had little options in the way of obtaining food every day.  Luckily enough, he qualified for MOW, which has helped him, as well as hundreds of other seniors, to stay healthy, independent and happy.

     Registered volunteers, numbering around 500, deliver one hot, nutritious meal every weekday to area seniors. Some volunteers are people who do it over their lunch breaks; some are church groups who do it monthly, weekly, or even daily; some are just regular people looking to delivery not only food, but a healthy dose of friendship, too.

     “It feels so good to be able to connect with someone and talk about the old days,” Jim said. “Sometimes, I can get so lonely. I wish the people could stay longer.”

     The MOW clients aren’t the only ones who wish the visits were a little longer, but so do the volunteers. Many friendly relationships are formed between client and volunteer.  However, with many other hungry people waiting for their lunch to be delivered, the volunters keep a somewhat efficient pace, but always with a compassionate smile.

     The husband-wife team of Larry and Marsha Donnel have been volunteering for MOW for only a few months and have already felt the affirmative feelings in donating their time and company to seniors.

     “It’s a real good feeling to help other people,” Larry, of Decatur, says. “It also just makes the community feel better.”

     Larry and his wife, Marsha, starting volunteering for MOW just a few months after she retired from work. Having a personal investment in MOW, it was important for the pair to donate their time to such a worthy program. Larry’s 91-year-old mom, Beulah is a MOW client.

     “It was a God send for her. Meals On Wheels helps people to remain independent and not in a nursing home. I feel like this program has done so much for my mom that I need to do something for it,” Larry says.