I have often read and heard about Meals on Wheels but hardly knew anything about their organization. When i was recommended to contact them, it was an immense pleasure to learn about their mission. In addition, I managed to meet one of their volunteers who among the community of volunteers, would certainly be among the final candidates for a gold medal if there existed an Olympic program for Volunteers.
On August 11th, 2016, I met with Lea de Vries-Bothwel originally from Hoensbroek Netherlands, a Sault resident who is the Co-ordinator for Meals on Wheels. Lea has been the co-ordinator for the program for over 4 years and explained that the Meals on Wheels program mission is to keep people in their homes as long as possible.
Meals on Wheels was started by the ladies of the Maycourt Club in 1973 who prepared,
packaged, and provided the meals voluntarily for housebound seniors. Originally they delivered approximately 25 meals per day. Currently over 100 meals are delivered daily during lunch hour Monday-Friday.
All meals are prepared fresh daily in the F.J.Davey Home. Hot meals are delivered in containers that keep the food hot. A hot meal consists of soup, main course, and dessert. Frozen meals are supplied on Friday for those who need nutritional support on the weekend.
The meals are rather inexpensive only $7.00 for a hot meal and $7.50 for a frozen meal. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care subsidize the meals.
Lea and the Davey Home dietician co-ordinate the meal program which rotates around a 3 week period. Special diets are accommodated as much as possible. The meals are then delivered to qualified Sault residents such as convalescents, people with disabilities, seniors, veterans, people suffering from chronic illness, and caregivers.
Lea receives all applications for the program. Referrals are received from individuals or family members, physicians, social services, hospital, geriatric clinic, and CCAC.
All meals are all delivered by volunteers who on average deliver up to 20 meals. Among the over 100 volunteers, there is Dick Brown whom I had the privilege to meet while talking to Lea. That day also happened to be his birthday!
Now Dick Brown is no ordinary individual. Consider this; he is 93 years old and has been delivering meals since 1975! He responded to an ad while still working as payroll supervisor at Weyerhaeuser. Incidentally, at his own cost in his own vehicle. Now Dick is mostly on standby with calls for his assistance only happening occasionally, which he said can be up to 2 times /week.
A Sault native Dick volunteered for WWII when he was 18 and wound up as rear gunner in the RAF. He flew in Halifax 4 engine bombers. One of his missions was towing a glider into occupied France the night before D Day and dropping the glider on Caen. Most of his missions were at night. A couple of the other ones he mentioned were Arnhem and crossing the Rhine.
Dick treasures the people he meets while delivering the meals. He enjoys listening to their stories and his contribution to their ability to remain in their own home. He is an intelligent caring man who relates to the difficulties that the meal recipients are experiencing.
Dick Brown is another Sault resident who contributes immensely to the welfare of our citizens. As mentioned above, if there was a Volunteer Olympics Dick Brown would certainly be on the podium.
Every year all the volunteers are feted at the Davey Home with a special dinner in recognition of their efforts to support the program.