Suffolk Meals on Wheels celebrates volunteers with special appreciation dinner
Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2022
The volunteers behind delivering meals to local senior citizens got their night in the spotlight for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Meals on Wheels of Suffolk and Isle of Wight at the Suffolk Shrine Club joined forces for a special volunteer appreciation dinner Thursday, Oct. 27.
Special pins were awarded to those who serve for the organization and they also heard words of inspiration from Financial Officer Karen Stowe and Executive Director Jessica York on the program’s importance to so many in Suffolk.
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Suffolk and Isle of Wight Meals on Wheels Program Manager Sarah Vandenburg also provided insight on her organization, the return of the dinner and her hopes for the future of the program.
For those not familiar with Meals on Wheels, Vandenburg offered details on how it helps local seniors.
“Meals on Wheels is a non-profit program and we strive to deliver balanced, nutritional meals to the community that can’t get out, they can’t leave their homes, or maybe the affordability of it is not within their budget,” Vanderburg said. “We mainly target those of older age, so the elderly and those with disabilities.
Thursday’s dinner offered a chance for those operating the program to show appreciation to the volunteers that make it work.
“This is the first one that’s been held since pre-COVID, so since 2019,” she said. “This is the first event we held, and tonight is all about recognizing our volunteers and their dedication to the organization because without them, we don’t survive.”
Vandenburg said it is clear those who give of their time care about the clients.
“They care about the community that we serve, and they are invaluable,” she said. “We can’t thank them enough, so this is just a little time to get together, have some food, have some fellowship, and just say thank you.”
Likewise, Vandenburg noted the ease of the fellowship as many people stayed after the dinner to visit with one another.
“As you can see, everybody kind of knows each other,” she said. “And they’re all talking. We didn’t have to do much of the talking!”
Meals on Wheels’ future
Vandenburg shared her hopes for the future of Meals on Wheels.
“As an organization, I just hope that we continue to grow and continue to serve and just have a heart of service at all times,” she said. “And that’s why we’re here, we’re here to serve our community. That’s first above and foremost above all else.”
Baring another pandemic, Vandenburg said she hopes they can return to the annual volunteer appreciation events, noting it has always been done this way by her predecessors.
“We hope that we’ll just be able to build and expand and that we’ll have so many people within our network that want to volunteer that we’ll have to get a bigger place to hold the event next year,” she said. “Just continue to be grateful for everybody who helps us and helps the community.”
For more information on volunteering for the Meals on Wheels program or for seniors interested in signing up for its services, contact Vandenberg or her staff at 757-934-4911 or visit their website at www.mowsuffolkiow.com.