Volunteers of the Week: Meals on Wheels Connects Dominican College Students with the Aging and Homebound Populations

BY BARRY WARNER

Pictured are Melissa Leigh Grau, Director of Community Engagement and Leadership Development at Dominican College; Dianna Diffley, Volunteer Coordinator for Meals on Wheels of Rockland and student volunteers Quincy, Sam, Freddy and Christina.

Home-delivered meals are intended for older adults who are considered homebound due to illness or disability and who are food insecure due to limitations in their abilities to obtain and prepare food on a daily basis.

“The Meals on Wheels (mow) mission statement is to enhance the wellness of Rockland’s older adults and their families by providing services that support their safety, independence and health. During our meal deliveries, we are not only delivering a nutritious meal, but we are preventing loneliness by providing friendly conversation and doing a safety check. The safety checks are a great way to reassure family members that we have seen a loved one and they are doing fine today. Our volunteers go above and beyond for our clients. The bond that is formed between our volunteers and the people they serve is rewarding for both parties involved. Dominican college students have been delivering for 5 years. They have great enthusiasm for it. Some have returned after graduation and taken their own route. Connecting the aging population to the youth has proven to be wonderful. We have a number of programs, such as blizzard boxes, miles of smiles, caring cards and crafts and our pet pantry that also connects the youth to our aging adults. The kids earn community service hours and the clients benefit from all of the programs we have. Dominican College has a group of youth volunteers that are making sure every older adult in Rockland is living their life to the fullest and that is our vision,” Meals on Wheels Volunteer Coordinator Dianna Diffley told the Rockland County Times.

Melissa Leigh Grau, Director of Community Engagement and Leadership Development at Dominican College said, “We have been volunteering at Meals on Wheels since 2013. Every Friday, students are getting hands-on experience by delivering food. The human connection is a ‘language of love’, when we help each other. Student volunteers get a chance to say hello to an elderly homebound person, who may not be able to leave home or have a visit from someone else that day. Some student s who have graduated come back to Meals on Wheels and request the same route that they

Dominican College student volunteers are loading the containers of food prepared by Meals on Wheels of Rockland into the van. They will be following a planned route to deliver nutritious meals to people who are homebound.

had in the past. Volunteering shows us what it means when we honor every part of our community.”

– Volunteer student Quincy said, “I am van certified and drive the students from the College to Meals on  Wheels to pick up the containers to make their deliveries.”

– Volunteer student Sam said, “Delivering the food is a nice thing to do and it only takes a few hours out of my day.”

– Volunteer student Freddy said, “I want to help people because I think it is my duty to do so.”

– Volunteer student Christina said, “I like to help because I think it is my Catholic duty and I like to see people happy.”

Meals on Wheels provides the following instructions to their volunteer drivers to deliver safe and nutritious food, do a safety check and enable friendly conversation:

Arrive at your pick up locations as close as possible to the designated pick up time to insure food safety!

Review your route book and check that all assigned meals are in the cooler. Load the cold and hot carriers in the vehicle. Be sure to keep the carriers closed tight to retain the proper food temperature.

Follow the directions by delivering meals in route order.

During delivery always knock/ring bell at every stop.

When the client is at home, please deliver the meal and provide some friendly conversation and then proceed to the next client.

Meals can never be left on the ground outside the door for food safety!

On Thanksgiving (11/22), the meal delivered included turkey and stuffing, mashed sweets and brussel sprouts; for Chanukah (12/7) the meal will include pot roast w/gravy, potato pancake and glazed carrots and for Christmas (12/25) the meal will include baked ham, scalloped potatoes and asparagus.

In addition to providing nutritious, tasty meals necessary to help the aging to stay healthy, the Meals on Wheels program offers an opportunity for social interaction with volunteers and gives its clients and their families a sense of security that someone is checking in on them regularly. The hope is that these services will provide the independence and security needed by the homebound to age in place in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

For additional information or to volunteer, visit Meals on Wheels at www.mowrockland.org or call 845-624-6325.