Support Meals on Wheels at Opry

Published 9:30 pm Monday, March 4, 2013

It used to be whispered behind one’s back, as if one were having an affair or had contracted a social disease.

“She gets Meals on Wheels,” they said, with the tone of judgment that comes with gossip.

They said it behind the backs of young, disabled people without family nearby and behind the backs of elderly people whose relatives have gone to the afterlife before them. They said it behind the backs of many people who receive the meals in order to stay nutritionally sound and able to remain in their own homes.

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That’s what Suffolk Meals on Wheels executive director Roseland Worrell told me the other day when we were talking about the organization’s upcoming fundraiser, set for Friday at 7 p.m. at King’s Fork Middle School. It only takes a few naysayers to spread a certain perception, and this phenomenon had, unfortunately, happened to the wonderful Meals on Wheels organization in recent years.

Whether those folks believed Meals on Wheels are a government handout (they’re not; the organization receives no government funding, and many recipients pay a nominal fee for the service) or simply thought of not being able to prepare one’s own food as shameful (it’s not; we all get older, and even young folks need a hand every now and then), those few people had managed to turn Meals on Wheels into an opportunity to gossip about their neighbors who receive the service.

But the perception of the organization is changing, largely thanks to the hard work of Worrell and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who drive the meals to recipients every weekday.

“It has changed the perception of what Meals on Wheels is about,” Worrell told me the other day.

The reality of Meals on Wheels is that dedicated volunteers drive the nutritious meals prepared by Sentara Obici Hospital’s food service to recipients every weekday, and many more generous donors contribute to fund the service. Anyone who is homebound and unable to prepare his or her own food can get the service. In many cases, food preparation is the only barrier to people being able to remain in their own homes rather than go to a facility, and this service can mean the world to people and their families.

Perhaps more important than the meals is the fact that the volunteer’s presence gives the recipient a friendly face and human contact, and the recipient’s family, who in our migratory culture may live in far-flung locations, gets the peace of mind of knowing that someone is checking on their loved one, in person, every day.

Meals on Wheels is one of the most worthy organizations in Suffolk to support with your money, and the opportunity is coming Friday to do just that. The Rocky Hock Opry at King’s Fork Middle School will be a roaring good time, and if you’re looking for something to do, you’ve just found it.

Tickets for the Opry performance are $15 and are available by calling Suffolk Meals on Wheels at 934-4911 or Billy Smith at 925-4541. Tickets are also available at Nationwide Insurance, Farmers Hardware in Holland, Beale & Curran PC in Smithfield, Dwight Bradshaw DDS, Virginia Commonwealth Bank, Grafik Trenz, all Farmers Bank locations, Windsor Pharmacy and all Mike Duman Auto locations. Tickets will not be sold at the door.