Meals on Wheels needs volunteers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 10, 2002

If you are retired, work part-time, want to help and meet new people, or can spare as little as a couple of hours a month, why not consider being a volunteer as a driver or route helper for the Suffolk Meals on Wheels program?

Sharon DeWitt, program director, said volunteers are desperately needed, and that the organization depends daily on help from such people.

Each Monday through Friday, Suffolk Meals on Wheels delivers noonday and box supper meals to people who, regardless of age, are homebound, elderly or disabled and unable to prepare their own meals.

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Seven routes reaching into downtown Suffolk, Driver, Chuckatuck, Bennett’s Creek, Crittenden, Whaleyville, Holland, and Windsor provide more than 70 residents easily with nutritious meals and a visit from one of friendly volunteers.

&uot;Each day, 14 people arrive at our office which is located in the new Obici Hospital on Godwin Boulevard to pick up and deliver meals to homebound residents in the area,&uot; said DeWitt. &uot;Some of our volunteers work as teams, one driver and one route helper, while others prefer to deliver alone. In total, a round trip runs little more than an hour. Some volunteers deliver once monthly while others deliver every week to every two weeks. The choice is theirs.&uot;

Two volunteers who work as a team are Jennifer Bradshaw and Lynn Barlow. Bradshaw has retired from the Suffolk City School System as a math teacher at the former John Yeates High School, and Barlow said she took an early retirement from the Portsmouth City School System after being employed as a librarian.

Barlow said that she has been a volunteer for the Suffolk Meals on Wheels for 10 years and that they meet the sweetest little elderly folks.

&uot;It’s been a pleasure getting to know them,&uot; said Barlow. &uot;My first husband and I started doing this after I retired in 1991 because he was in poor health and this was a way to get out of the house. He drove and I ran back an forth to houses. When he passed away in 1993, Jennifer Bradshaw started deliveries with me.

&uot;Since we have been doing this together, we have delivered to homes where the person may need to call the doctor or the rescue squad and was unable to do so. We have answered these emergency distress calls for them and have probably saved some lives by doing so.

&uot;Jennifer and I usually make a day of it and have lunch after we make deliveries. It’s a lot of fun and other volunteers are very pleasant. We meet a lot of folks that we would not have met if it had not been for Suffolk Meals on Wheels; and who knows, we may be the ones that may need it one of these days.&uot;

Bradshaw said that she feels like this is a small way that we can help people to stay in their homes when they need to eat properly and that people who are just going to use the services part-time who undergo surgery or some other short time illness, know that it is more comfortable to be able to stay in the home more than anywhere else.

&uot;So many times when we donate to certain organizations, we don’t know where our money is going. It is different with Meals on Wheels. You know where your money is going because you can see it right here,&uot; said Bradshaw.

Both she and Barlow are familiar with being members of the Suffolk Meals on Wheels Board of Directors. Barlow served six years before leaving the board in December 2001, and Bradshaw has been serving on the board for the last three years.

There are independent and team volunteers from many local businesses and organizations. These organizations are as follows: First Baptist Main Street, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Main Street Methodist, Wilroy Baptist, Bethlehem Christian, Chuckatuck Christian, Hillcrest Baptist, Suffolk Christian and Magnolia Methodist Churches, Tidewater House, Junto Women’s Club, Ciba Chemicals, Inc., U.S. Navy, Suffolk Police Dept., Essex Savings Bank, Louise Obici Hospital, Duke Oldsmobile, Suffolk Fire Dept., AMADAS, U.S. Naval Reserve, Mike Duman Automotive, and Farmers Bank of Windsor.

Drivers and route helpers are always needed. Drivers qualify with their own car, a valid license and proper auto insurance coverage. Full training and assistance are provided and the organization offers a comprehensive benefit package which many volunteer organizations do not have

&uot;Our volunteers’ work is appreciated not only by the homebound residents we serve but also by their family members and our Suffolk and Windsor Community in general. Our need for volunteers is always there and we would love to have you join us in providing meals to those in need&uot; said DeWitt.

For more information or to signup as a volunteer, contact: DeWitt at 934-4911.