Photo courtesy of Parker Firestone

Arts and Entertainment

Column: Being a volunteer for meals on wheels

Meals on wheels enables the joy of human connection for older adults.
<a href="" target="_self">Parker Firestone</a>

Parker Firestone

May 7, 2022
Years ago, I was visiting my great-grandma Lorraine while she recuperated from a broken hip when there was a knock at the door and a voice yelled, “Meals on Wheels!”

I opened the door and was greeted by an older gentleman who shook my hand and handed me three paper bags of food. “Hi, I’m Larry.  You must be Lorraine’s grandson. I have heard a lot about you. The chicken alfredo looks good. Save some for your grandma.”

This was my introduction to Meals On Wheels, a community outreach program that delivers food to senior citizens. As a sophomore in high school last year, I was feeling a little disconnected while doing online school because of COVID. I wanted to do volunteer work in my community that directly impacts people, especially older adults. But the senior home closest to mine was locked down due to COVID restrictions.

While visiting my Grandma Candy, her neighbor was having meals delivered by Meals on Wheels. I remembered my interaction all those years ago with Larry and I discovered that my grandma’s local community center, Sea County Community Center in Laguna Niguel, is the Meals on Wheels headquarters for our area. My mom contacted Robin at Age Well Senior Services and she was delighted to have us volunteer once a week.

Meals on Wheels provides three healthy prepackaged meals to older adults that are delivered daily by volunteers. There are Meals on Wheels programs in every state in the nation.

When we arrived on our first day, I was amazed at the number of volunteers — about 10 of us.  I was the youngest by 30 years, but no matter what our ages we were all energized.  Each volunteer grabbed one cold and one hot insulated bag of food; plastic bags; gloves and a clipboard with names and addresses for each of the routes.

My mom and I were given a route with five seniors.  My mom drove and I was the navigator and delivery boy.  At each delivery, I would hop out of the car and prepare an individual bag with two cold prepackaged foods (breakfast and lunch) and one hot meal for dinner from the trunk of our car.

On the menu that first day was pancakes, macaroni and cheese and chicken alfredo.  I was excited as I rang each doorbell, announced “Meals on Wheels!” and handed thankful seniors their meals.

We drove to areas in my community that I didn’t know existed and even had fun getting lost and finding our way. The best part of the delivery was seeing the happy face and hearing the kind words from every person that I encountered. They were not only happy to have the food; I could tell that they were excited to interact with me.

I have been volunteering for over a year now and find it so fulfilling and I have made a lot of new friends.  I encourage other young people to go volunteer in your community. It will make your day!

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