When Meals on Wheels in Rockland was looking for a new CEO, they didn’t have to look far to find someone with plenty of experience “on the road,” a passion for the organization, and a knowledge of the County. Kevin Hardy, owner of KLS Transportation, and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Meals On Wheels, seemed like an obvious and appropriate choice.
“We are proud to announce Kevin Hardy as the new President and CEO of Meals On Wheels,” says Paul Paciello, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Not only does Kevin have experience managing organizations of varying sizes, he has been a passionate supporter serving on the board since 2017. He understands and believes in our mission and has the business acumen to ensure that Meals On Wheels will continue providing vital services to Rockland for years to come.”
In fact, Hardy has been delivering meals for the organization for over 10 years and during Thanksgiving week can be found inside the freezer truck organizing the hundreds of pies that are purchased by individuals and businesses around the region. He has also been the co-chair of the organization’s annual fundraising Gala Cornucopia.
Hardy, who grew up in Rockland, has owned and operated KLS Transportation since 2006 and ran Kevin’s Cartwheels from 1996 to 2017 providing private transportation to children in Rockland and Bergen County. He also served as VP of a private security firm for eight years, owned a private security installation and servicing company for over 14 years and was the facilities manager at Rockland Country Day School from 1982 to 1987.
Hardy is well known throughout the Rockland community as a member and Ambassador for Rockland Business Association, serving as a board member and chair of the fundraising and selection committees for Leadership Rockland (and a 2011 graduate), President of New City Rotary and a recipient of that organization’s Paul Harris Award, and organizer of the New City Rotary Wine and Food Festival which has raised over $100,000 since its inception in 2015. He has also been President of the Pearl River Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce and helped organize the Rockland Chamber Alliance.
Hardy plans to focus on the following for Meals on Wheels:
Increasing the number of people who receive and purchase meals: Meals On Wheels has the largest kitchen in Rockland County serving more than 800 meals each day to homebound individuals as well as Jawonio, the County Warming Center, the Mental Health Association, the MLK Center, the Family Emergency Shelter and Lexington Center for Recovery;
Expanding the number of individuals who enjoy daily activities in the five senior centers operated by Meals On Wheels;
Capitalizing on the recent DSRIP program underwritten by a grant from Montefiore, which demonstrated that people who receive regular check-ins and medically tailored meals after a hospital stay are 70 percent less likely to be re–admitted;
Increasing the number of people who attend the Social Adult Day Care program in Nanuet where individuals with early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can participate in daily activities to keep them active and engaged, allowing family members to go to work or be home with peace of mind that their loved one is being well cared for.
“The vast majority of people in Rockland County do not realize the breadth of services that Meals on Wheels offers.,” Hardy says. “We provide meals to anyone who needs them, not just our seniors. For example, a homebound and disabled 35–year–old can have meals delivered and we’ll even check on them to see how they are doing and offer any guidance if they need additional services or support. Our meal delivery service actually helped to rescue 30 people last year who were found in distress and required medical assistance. If we hadn’t been delivering their meals combined with a check-in, who knows what might have happened.”
In January 1975, Meals On Wheels of Rockland served their first home–delivered meal and by the end of that year, volunteers had delivered more than 9,800 meals. Forty-four years later, the staff cooks and volunteers deliver more than 800 meals daily and over 210,000 annually to homebound older adults, clients in the Meals On Wheels’ five Senior Activity Centers and in their Adult Day Care program for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In September 2019, they marked a milestone when Rockland County Executive Ed Day delivered their 10,000,000th meal.
“Not only does Meals on Wheels provide healthy, nutritious meals, but offers a personal connection and valued interaction between those who deliver meals and those receiving them,” says County Executive Ed Day. “I have been delivering meals for over a dozen years, and it was truly an honor to deliver the 10 millionth for this great local agency.”
Meals On Wheels recently instituted a national program to improve and scale a mobile app-based monitoring program to help support home-delivered meal clients’ health, safety, and social needs. The program – developed with Meals On Wheels America, the West Health Institute and the Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research – enables staff and volunteer drivers to use a mobile app to quickly log an alert and act upon changes observed in homebound meal clients with regard to safety and physical or mental health status during deliveries. Up to 30 Meals On Wheels sites across the country are participating in the program, which will monitor 40,000 older adults nationwide and an estimated 460 here in Rockland County.
The mission of Meals On Wheels is to enhance the wellness of Rockland’s older adults and their families by providing services that support their safety, independence, and health. Meals on Wheels believes that every older adult in Rockland should be given the opportunity to live their life to the fullest. Meals On Wheels programs are supported in part by the Rockland County Office for the Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, the Administration on Aging and the County of Rockland. Contributions are voluntary and confidential and used to expand services. Services will not be denied to those unable or unwilling to contribute. For those who self-disclose income at or above 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, the suggested contribution is equal to the service cost. Seniors seeking meals, support for Alzheimer’s, or social programs through our five seniors centers around the County, can call 845-624-6325 or visit www.mowrockland.org to learn about the variety of services provided by Meals On Wheels.