Asha delivers human connection alongside nutritious meals
As a volunteer driver for Wilder Meals on Wheels, Asha (pictured on the left with Wilder Connect staff members) delivers prepared meals every Monday to nine recipients in Saint Paul. She fosters human connection as she brings nutritious meals to community members.
Asha loves hearing about Meals on Wheels recipients’ lives. In addition to spoken check-ins, Asha observes and helps conduct welfare checks while she is delivering meals. She asks herself, “Is this your only contact with the outside world? Are there people checking on you? What other services might you need?” She shares her observations with Wilder staff, who can follow up with the recipient to see if they need or want additional services.
The sense of connection and benefiting someone else gives volunteers a boost, but Meals on Wheels recipients also benefit. Christine Miller, Wilder’s Meals on Wheels coordinator, says recipients often feel a sense of reciprocity when they find opportunities to make a positive impact on volunteers. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had volunteers return from their routes still absorbed in a kind word said to them by a client or stories that they’ll remember forever,” Christine says.
Building relationships through Wilder Connect
Besides Wilder Meals on Wheels, Asha helps at Wilder Connect, a respite service that provides four hours of recreation and healthy meals each week for adults with long-term care support needs, such as folks with Parkinson’s Disease or a similar neurodegenerative condition. The activities also give their regular caregivers time for themselves.
“For me, the coolest part is building relationships and getting to know people and just hearing about their lives,” Asha says. “Sometimes at Wilder Connect, you’ll ask them a question, and they’ll go off on a total tangent.” The question might not get answered, she says, but the tangent usually reveals deeper personal memories.