For Van Meter employees, volunteering for Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program fostered a sense of connection to home and community
Van Meter Inc. is a leading provider of electrical products and services in the Midwest. This 100-percent employee-owned business encourages volunteerism. As part of that commitment, Van Meter employees provided locally made meals and smiles on a weekly basis to Saint Paul residents who receive Meals on Wheels through Wilder.
Meals on Wheels is a lifeline for many adults who live alone, have difficulty cooking and preparing meals, or are home due to health conditions, disabilities or limited mobility. Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program provides affordable, made-from-scratch, healthy meals to community members in the Midway, Frogtown and surrounding neighborhoods of Saint Paul. Christine Miller, Wilder’s Meals on Wheels Coordinator, says Wilder volunteers deliver an estimated 2,700 meals to about 130 clients every month.
Group volunteer projects foster connection and team building
For employers like Van Meter, group volunteer opportunities such as Meals on Wheels can be a great opportunity for team building and fostering a feeling of connection in the community. As Van Meter Meals on Wheels volunteers wound down their time delivering meals in late 2022, they reflected on their volunteer experience.
Van Meter volunteer Ross Tiedemann liked helping Meals on Wheels participants feel a sense of connection. He feels a family tie to the program, too. “My grandmother was a recipient years ago,” Ross says. “So, delivering Meals on Wheels hits home a little bit.”
Saint Paul is home for Van Meter volunteer Bill Gilpin’s family, and he helped with other Meals on Wheels programs even before he volunteered with Wilder. As he made deliveries, he deeply appreciated getting to know community members and the connection he felt because of his neighborhood ties.
Jeff Kraus, another Van Meter employee who volunteered for Meals on Wheels, felt like he was visiting his roots because his father grew up near Wilder Center. He says that through volunteering and interactions with community members “you get a feeling that you’re making a real difference.”
Meals on Wheels builds a sense of community
Wilder’s Meals on Wheels team works to build a sense of community and caring among volunteers and participants in big and small ways, from hosting a volunteer picnic at Frogtown Farm during the summer to how staff respond to participant meal requests and greet volunteers when they arrive.
“Meals on Wheels helps in the fight to eliminate hunger in Minnesota,” says Christine Miller, Wilder’s Meals on Wheels coordinator, “but the benefits extend beyond nutritious meals. For participants and volunteers, Meals on Wheels can provide feelings of connection, care and togetherness.”