For the past nine years, Betty McIvor of Bainbridge has devoted time to Chagrin Falls Meals on Wheels helping to pack lunches two days a week and deliver meals twice a week.
She is among the dedicated group of 80 to 100 volunteers who work out of the Federated Church Family Life Center kitchen in Bainbridge.
One other vital aspect of the volunteer job is spending time with the recipients and lending them a hand for small tasks such as changing a light bulb. “They enjoy the company and someone spending a couple of minutes with them,” she said.
That’s the overall mission of the group that cooks, packs and delivers meals to people who are temporarily or permanently unable to shop or prepare meals for themselves.
Kristina DuBois, president of the board of trustees, said Meals on Wheels clients includes mostly senior citizens, but the organization also serves homebound people of any age who need the service. It enables them to live independently in their homes, she noted.
The organization is totally independent and does not receive government funding. Its support comes from donations made by churches, individuals and organizations.
Stores including Giant Eagle donate food to Meals on Wheels, Ms. DuBois said. “They have been very generous to us and we donate to Bainbridge food banks and veterans as well.”
Meals on Wheels serves the greater Chagrin Falls area including Chagrin Falls Village and township, Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville, Moreland Hills, Russell, South Russell and Newbury, she said. “We are also delivering in the eastern corner of Solon, to Carrington Court the senior apartments.”
In addition to providing nutritious meals, the volunteers check on the well-being of recipients and provide daily interactions for the homebound, she added.
Demographics are changing in the Chagrin Valley as it is in many communities. “With the increased number of senior-living options, sometimes the elderly are not staying in their homes as much as they did in the past, but we want to serve those who are staying in their homes and could use some assistance,” Ms. DuBois said.
“We have one paid chef who prepares the menus and foods with volunteer kitchen helpers,” Ms. DuBois said. Recipients are delivered one main meal and one light meal each week day.
“Our food is cooked fresh by chef (Richard) Hales, a trained and experienced chef, and made locally at the Family Life Center kitchen,” she said. His menu focuses on fresh, minimally processed and nutritionally balanced food.
“There is no income or age requirement,” Ms. DuBois noted. Recipients are charged a $6 a day for both the main meal and a light meal delivered around noon Monday through Friday. No one is turned away for inability to pay.
“There’s a real need out there,” said Marty Robertson of Chagrin Falls who has been a volunteer driver for the past 10 years. “I get a good feeling because it is helping people. Our recipients are in their 80s and even 90s,” he said.
“These people really need the help and I’m pleased to be part of an organization that helps them,” said Mr. Robertson, a retired engineer.
“A part of our service is spending some time with them,” he said. “It’s a midday visit that one might say is a welfare check. We get to know them and we are concerned about their well-being. If we don’t hear from them, we make phone calls” to family members or a neighbor.
“It’s all purely volunteer and drivers use their own cars and use their own gas,” Mr. Robertson said. “We have a good group and there is a lot of camaraderie.”
Most of the drivers are retired although there are some who still are working and find the time to volunteer, he added.
Chagrin Falls Meals on Wheels Inc. was started in 1976 at the Federated Church. In 2000, the operations moved out to the Family Life Center where there is a larger kitchen and parking.
In November, more than 7,000 mailings were sent out appealing for donations. “It is so important to get the support of the community to keep us whole,” Mr. Robertson said.
Contributions can be made to the endowment fund payable to Chagrin Falls Meals-On-Wheels Inc., P.O. Box 23497, Chagrin Falls 44023 or a secure payment online through PayPal at www.chagrinfallsmeals.org.