Meals On Wheels Needs More Volunteer Drivers – Brevard, NC
Last updated 10/26/2020 at 4:09pm
Wheeling red and blue bags to their cars, they embark on their mission of bringing a mid-day meals to the county's homebound elderly.
However, their ranks have been depleted this year by the effect of the COVID-19 virus.
"We've definitely been struggling lately and could use more volunteer drivers," said a beleaguered Sharyn Scalici, coordinator of Transylvania County Meals on Wheels and the only paid member of this otherwise all-volunteer organization. "Many of our drivers are staying home these days, and others have gone back to Florida."
Meals on Wheels has been delivering noontime meals, along with friendly visits, to county homebound since 1978. For the time being, the friendly visits are on hold while masked, gloved drivers drop off the meals without chatting with the clients.
Most volunteers drive once a week, a trip that which averages about eight stops and usually takes 90 minutes or less. A few dedicated volunteers have been working extra days to keep deliveries going over the 11 routes.
Drivers deliver meals that are prepared at Transylvania Regional Hospital under the supervision of a registered dietitian. Meals are low in fat and sodium, satisfy one-third of the day's nutritional requirements, and meet standards for cardiac and diabetic nutrition. Fees are arranged on a sliding scale, and inability to pay will not disqualify anyone from receiving meals.
Pat Clements, vice president of Meals on Wheels, has been helping out nearly every day since the pandemic first hit, readying the hot and cold bags for the drivers and filling in for last-minute absences. He often delivers three times a week.
When Pat retired from his teaching job in New Jersey and moved to Brevard three years ago, he was looking to become involved in community service. Meals on Wheels turned out to be a perfect fit.
Describing himself as a natural storyteller who enjoys schmoozing with the clients, Pat said, "I didn't foresee how inspiring it would be to deliver to clients regularly and come to know their stories. Many of these people have lived hard, challenging lives. They teach me about humility and gratitude. It's very satisfying."
Jim Grodnik, who's been delivering meals for seven years, said that in normal times, the personal contact with the driver is the high point of the day for many recipients. He said that was true for him as well. He's learned about the colorful life of 90-year old Stanford graduate (retired school teacher and amateur novelist) who somehow managed to live alone in a tiny forest cabin.
When a lifelong Transylvania County resident obtained a pet cat from Mount Airy, N.C., Jim had the honor of naming her "Aunt Bee." In non-pandemic times, Jim looked forward to a weekly discussion of life and politics with a woman who has lived in Western North Carolina all of her 101 years.
To become part of this rewarding community service - at a time when help is sorely needed - call Sharyn Scalici, at 883-3743.