Is two hours a week of volunteer time sufficient to make a difference? “It certainly is” say Genevieve Lachance and Regina Medalia, both residents of the Carlington area.
“As Meals on Wheels volunteer we deliver up to 16 meals over the lunch hour once a week. The clients and we get to know each other and we look forward to our brief visits. Sometimes there are new clients added to our route so we stop a little longer to get to know the person and answer any questions they may have about the service. Other times a familiar client is missing from the route. The office staff will let us know why they are not there. It may be that they are just away at an appointment or maybe the have been hospitalized or even moved to a nursing home. We are always happy to see them when they are back on the route. Some clients are only on the service for a week or two while they are recovering from an illness or surgery. Others are on the service for an extended period of time. Eating well makes such a difference to a person's health. It is amazing to see how some of the clients improve after a period of time taking Meals on Wheels.”
Volunteers understand the importance to clients of maintaining independence. Health care reform is moving more health care into the community. This fact combined with the aging of the population means that community programs such as Meals on Wheels will play an increasing role in assisting individuals to maintain their health and independence at home. The increased partnership between the health care institutions and the community agencies makes good sense.
Every day from Monday to Friday there are 58 volunteers delivering hot meals. Other volunteers deliver packages of frozen Meals on Wheels. There are also volunteers who work in the Meals on Wheels office. In total there are close to 650 volunteers working with The King's Daughter Dinner Wagon. All volunteers are given an orientation and training before starting their work with the program. Some volunteers deliver year round, once a week, or once a month while others work a more flexible schedule to accommodate travel or other commitments.
Throughout Ottawa there are fifteen different institutions which prepare the meals. These are hospitals, nursing homes, and homes for the aged. The meal consists of soup, a hot main course, dessert and fruit or a salad. They are packed into insulated bags to keep them hot during delivery. The volunteers deliver hot meals as a team. Sometimes the driver stays in the car, especially if there is no place to park, and other times the driver delivers with the server. The teams work out their own routine. A road allowance is provided to the volunteer drivers.
What are you doing over the lunch hour? Your time could make a valuable contribution to others. For information on the Meals on Wheels service or to volunteer, call the Dinner Wagon office at 233-2424.