Neighbors Helping neighbors
Guest blog: Meals on Wheels Orange County, NC
As our name suggests, Meals on Wheels Orange County, NC (MOWOCNC) provides nutritious meals. And that’s really important since 1 in 7 older adults in Orange County, NC lives below or within 150% of the poverty line. In addition, 25% of them live alone. The challenges they face with lack of nutrition, social isolation and loneliness can lead to higher incidences of chronic disease, falls, trips to the emergency room and repeat stays in the hospital.
It’s amazing how nutrition, or lack thereof, impacts not just physical but mental health as well. Which is why the human connection we provide is so critical – a tether to the community, a friendly face, a necessary check-in. In my middle and high school years, I had the privilege of volunteering at a nursing home. Back then, I learned how meaningful and impactful human connection was for the residents, along with the sad truth that many older adults don’t have the means or support systems to age well.
And that’s what drew me to MOWOCNC. We act as a safety net for older adults in need of our services. When we partner with an older adult, we commit to the relationship for as long as the need exists (ranging from 3 months to 10+ years).
Our service reaches individuals from all walks of life: authors, professors, social workers, teachers, lifelong community volunteers and veterans to name a few. Many worked their entire lives, raised families and contributed to their communities. Some have previously known need and others have not (until this point). Whatever their story, we’re eager to develop a relationship with them.
Meet Mrs. B.
This is one of many pictures we’ve collected of Mrs. B over the years. Others include her wearing a fake mustache along with our volunteers, laughing and swinging with a driver on the porch, and sitting alone in her home enjoying a meal. For eight years–five days per week (or once per week during 20 weeks of COVID)–we’ve shown up at Mrs. B’s doorstep. Just two weeks ago, she entered the hospital and will be moved to an assisted living facility once discharged. We will send notes and cards and hopefully be allowed to visit.
As staff and volunteers, we learn the difficult art of connecting and letting go. While our work brings us much joy, it can also bring sadness when it’s time to say goodbye. But we know that each of us is better for the relationships we’ve developed, the bonds we’ve formed and the impact we’ve made in the lives of the older adults we serve. Enabling them to age in their homes improves their quality of life and also enriches their neighborhoods as a whole.
MOWOCNC delivers more than 62,000 meals per year across the county, none of which would be possible without our volunteers. We call them the heart of our organization– the set-up crews, delivery drivers, phone callers, bakers, card makers, shelf stable food collectors and sorters, and committee and board members. Thank you for helping this small nonprofit make a huge difference in the lives of so many. Thank you for being a community of neighbors helping neighbors!
– Rachel Bearman, Executive Director
About Meals on Wheels Orange County, NC
Meals on Wheels Orange County, NC nourishes and enriches the lives of older adults through meal delivery and personal connections. Our service is based on our four core values:
- Community – We are neighbors helping neighbors, building and strengthening our community, supporting older adults’ efforts to age in place.
- Inclusion – We serve all older adults who are eligible, regardless of life history, health status, or financial means. We are committed to ensuring our staff and volunteers reflect the diversity of the community in which we serve and that all feel welcome, engaged, and able to contribute meaningfully to our mission.
- Respect – We recognize that we are encountering people during a time of great need, and of vulnerability. We strive to see each potential client as an individual, respecting their unique life experiences.
- Excellence – We strive to effectively and efficiently utilize our donors’ dollars and our volunteers’ time and energy to offer exemplary service to meet the needs of our clients and the community.