Do you have some time and a desire to make a difference in other people’s lives?
If so, Lutheran Social Service (LSS) is asking for your help in delivering meals to those in need through the Meals on Wheels program in Brainerd.
Terri Weyer, assistant director of the LSS Senior Nutrition Program, who oversees the Meals on Wheels program in Region Five, which consists of Crow Wing, Cass, Morrison, Wadena and Todd counties, said the Brainerd site needs volunteers. Weyer said currently there are 36 volunteers, but they’d like to have 45 volunteers to make the program run smoothly. Weyer said this time of year they lose volunteers who travel south for the winter or they lose people, who have medical issues, and cannot deliver meals anymore.
Lucy Hannimen, Brainerd site manager of Meals on Wheels, said there are nine routes a day Monday through Friday. Volunteers pick up their meals between 10:30-11 a.m. The routes are all within the cities of Brainerd and Baxter and are all within 10 miles. There is one driver per route who delivers meals to about eight households, and some stops consist of two meal drop-offs. All the drivers volunteer their time and their vehicle, including gas, to deliver the meals.
Hannimen said the biggest need for volunteers is on Thursday to deliver meals to two different routes in Baxter. However, she said LSS will work with the volunteers to pick out the day and route that works best for them. Volunteers also are needed for the times when the full-time drivers cannot do their particular route for a day. On Thursdays, Meals on Wheels volunteers also deliver frozen meals to residents to eat on the weekends or holidays. Meals also are delivered that can be placed on the shelves that last for a long time and that are used for certain circumstances, such as a blizzard and a situation where their meal cannot be delivered.
The meals are nutritious and meet one-third of the recommended daily allowances. The menus are prepared by a dietitian and special foods are available for seniors, who are on a diabetic, low-salt or low-cholesterol diets.
Weyer said that the volunteers get a lot of benefits out of delivering meals.
“Most of our volunteers have been around for five years or more and have made a lot of friendships,” said Weyer. “And the ones receiving the meals enjoy the friendships.”
Hannimen said one of the volunteers had to quit because of medical issues and had a hard time quitting.
“She was just in tears,” said Hannimen.
Weyer said if people want to volunteer but don’t want to deliver meals, they can help with paper work or help in the kitchen or dining room at the Meals on Wheels site located in the lower level of The Center on Kingwood Street. To volunteer call Hannimen at 824-6026 anytime from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Weyer said if businesses are interested they can choose a route and then have a different employee each week deliver meals. Weyer said currently there are businesses that have a route. Other volunteers, Weyer said are age 60 and older, but there are younger volunteers who deliver meals during their lunch break.
“(Volunteering to deliver meals) saves the taxpayers money and is the least expensive way to keep people in their home longer,” said Weyer. “People want to stay in their home as long as they can and having their meals do that is one way.
“Our volunteers get more of the benefit than anyone,” said Weyer.
Fred Kaune of Brainerd has delivered meals for a couple of years.
“I volunteer for a number of things and this is a good thing,” said Kaune. “You develop good relationships and it’s one way to give back to the community and humanity of all the blessings you have received in your life.”
Pat Wlasiuk of Brainerd delivers meals part-time and has done it for many years.
“I meet so many people and everyone is so friendly,” said Wlasiuk. “It’s nice to see them smile.”
Emily Davis of Baxter and her daughter Maddy, 3, delivered meals for the first time Wednesday.
“We saw an ad in our church bulletin and we have the time to do it so we volunteered,” said Davis. “My great aunt received meals and it’s a good community service.”