Wilder Meals on Wheels Volunteers: A Warm Smile and Greeting Is a Little Gift We Can Give
Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program provides a crucial service in delivering meals to older adults and adults with disabilities who would not otherwise have access to a nutritious meal. In 2017, Wilder Meals on Wheels delivered over 28,000 meals, an accomplishment made possible because of dedicated volunteers like Tim Morrell and Linda Strommer.
Tim and Linda are a husband-and-wife team who have delivered meals for the program for several years. They chose to volunteer at Wilder Meals on Wheels after retirement in part because the program accommodated their schedules and allowed them to travel and pursue other interests, including serving as campground hosts in state parks along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
“When Tim and I looked for volunteer opportunities, Wilder was my top choice to give back to and helping with Meals on Wheels was a weekly commitment we could do together,” Linda says.
Relationships with staff and participants motivate volunteers
Once Linda and Tim started volunteering, they were motivated to stay because staff who organize and pack meals and Meals on Wheels participants all depend on them. For some participants, Tim and Linda’s meal delivery may be the only daily contact they have. Linda says she enjoys knowing that they may bring a little light to someone with a smile, warm greeting, and a meal.
“Initially I thought volunteering was a way to be of help to people that could use a little support,” Tim says. “It didn’t take long before I realized helping others was helping me."
Over the several years they’ve delivered meals, Tim and Linda have come to know many of the people on their delivery route. “One of my favorites each week is visiting with Tom Perizzo. We share a few laughs and a little sunshine. Always makes my day,” Linda says. She and Tim are happy to go beyond just delivering meals. “Many weeks, I take a little bag of trash to the curb for (another participant), and she loves to talk about her flower garden. In the winter, she watches me walk down her stairs with a caution to be careful,” Linda says.
Make a difference by delivering meals this winter
Recruiting volunteers is more difficult during the winter, but it can be rewarding even in colder months. Linda offers this advice to potential volunteers: “We may be the only contact someone sees in a day, so a warm smile and greeting is a little gift we can give. A ‘new customer’ may not be so welcoming at first, but after a few friendly visits, they respond with a smile and sometimes a comment. Minnesota weather is always worthy of conversation!”