Article Published: Nov. 29 | Modified: Nov. 29
For some of Watauga County’s elderly population, food security is a nightmare they relive every morning they wake up to find an empty kitchen.
Those fortunate enough to become a recipient in Watauga County’s Project on Aging Meals on Wheels program, that one hot meal may be the last bit of sustenance they will receive until the next day.
“We have one client who actually eats cereal for dinner, because there is no food in their pantry,” said Meals on Wheels coordinator Wynne Strickland. “Someone else (who receives program benefits) might not be able to stand up long enough to cook, because they have to use a walker and have COPD.”
Compounding the issue of food insecurity is the shortage of ready volunteers to deliver the meals and provide a brief moment of human interaction that fulfills the spiritual and companionship needs of the elderly.
As second-home residents leave the High Country to acclimate themselves to a more temperate climate, Project on Aging rushes to fill the void of its depleted ranks of volunteers.
In the spirit of the holidays, as well as human decency, the Watauga County Senior Center is asking for volunteers to help deliver meals to those in need on those cold, desolate mornings, when a hot meal and few minutes of chit chat can go a long way in helping that person through the day and night.
“This is about mankind helping others,” Strickland said. “We all have to … help each other, because one day they might need a hand, as well.”
For the volunteers, helping out and caring for another human being can be a mutually beneficial experience.
“Sometimes, the volunteers get more out of it than the clients themselves,” Strickland said. “They see how glad the clients are to see them, and they feel satisfaction with helping someone.”
Strickland affectionately recalled how she was delivering a meal to one of the project’s clients, when she met two volunteers at the door as they were performing needed repairs at the resident’s home.
“People get a lot out of volunteering,” Strickland said. “You get close to these people, and they will ask why isn’t he or she on the route that day.”
Volunteering is not a full-time commitment, as the agency offers flexible scheduling and allows volunteers to participate as much as they want.
To volunteer or for more information, call Wynne Strickland at (828) 265-8090.