Volunteers enjoy giving back through Meals on Wheels

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region is looking for more volunteers to help with some of their programs, including Meals on Wheels.

Volunteer Owen Rance collects some meals to take to clients in the Meals on Wheels program on Monday morning. Although he started volunteering with the program 20 years ago at the request of a friend, Rance enjoys being of use in the community and giving back.

Volunteers with the Meals on Wheels program take hot meals to homebound clients, who are unable to cook meals for themselves.

“Most of them are ready for you,” volunteer Vickie Larose said. “I knock on the door and say, ‘Meals on Wheels ‘ and walk in.

“Some of them are so housebound they never get to see anybody -- I am probably the only person they will see that day,” she added. “I try to make it very cheery and happy. They want to know what the weather is like and we have a little conversation.”

All of the clients appreciate the effort the volunteers put into their jobs.

“They are so appreciative and they really are happy that someone is coming to do this service for them and ultimately, they don’t mind if you are a few minutes this way or the other, they are just glad to get a meal and they tell you so,” volunteer Lorraine Brokop said. “Sometimes you have time for a little chat and sometimes they realize you are on the run and have to move along.”

At times the clients are waiting for the volunteers to show up with their meal, just for some human interaction.

“I’ve had some of them waiting for me on the screen on TV. They are just waiting for that meal,” Larose said. “Others will say, ‘Can I give you a hug? I just love you.’ It is so rewarding.”

The volunteers all love giving back to the community and helping others.

Brokop has been volunteering for about nine years and would recommend it to others.

“Truly it is a wonderful experience to talk to the young and old alike. The elderly love to have a little one-on-one time -- it seems to sunny up their day,” she said. “It is fulfilling. I’ve always enjoyed it and I look forward to the times I can do it.

“It has always been a wonderful experience and I highly recommend anybody looking into something to do for the community that it is a very worthwhile cause.”

Not only is it a great experience, it is a volunteer opportunity someone can do with a friend or loved one.

Pamela Burt and her daughter Jane Brown were handing out meals together on Monday.

“We like meeting people and there was a need and we were able to fill it. There is no great hardship doing it once or twice a month,” Burt said. “The people we meet here and the people we meet delivering our meals are always very pleasant. I haven’t met an unpleasant person yet.”

“It is actually quite rewarding,” Brown added. “They are very grateful for the service they get. A lot of these people, it is the only contact they get with people. It is rewarding.”

Larose usually delivers meals with her daughter as well.

“I wanted to do something first of all with my husband so we could do things together and then we would go out and have lunch and make it a social event as well as a positive event that means something to some people,” she said.

After her husband died, she started to deliver the meals with her daughter instead.

“My daughter and I make it special because we have lunch out -- it is mother-daughter day once a month,” Larose said.

Volunteering is important to all of the volunteers, who just want to contribute to society in a positive way.

Meals on Wheels isn’t a huge time commitment, said Sonja Jahn, director of volunteer services.

“The more assistance that we have and the more volunteers that we have, the lighter the load,” Jahn said. “We are so grateful for the work our volunteers do.”

The volunteers are only needed once or twice a month.

“I am doing it four or five times a month but … if you are not working or get a certain day off a week, it is just an hour and it is a rewarding hour,” Brown said.

Some of them don’t just volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Larose also has four other volunteer positions in the city.

“I’m trying to make this a better world in which to live,” she said. “Volunteering is just very rewarding. It keeps you active, it gives you healthy and it keeps you positive. It is just a nice thing to do.”

Jahn said they would like to get an additional 20 volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program to lighten the load for the current volunteers.

“We are also looking for volunteers in our rural communities too, like Birch Hills and Kinistino,” she said. “We are looking for businesses to assist, new retirees, people who may want to do something with family, friends.”

There are many different ways to get involved and it is a fun program, Jahn said.

“Obviously you are making a positive difference in the community and helping to support a worthy cause and need to ensure that our clients can maintain their independence for as long as possible but they can stay at home for as long as possible,” she said. “This is a program that certainly assists in that.”

Those interested in volunteering can call the Volunteer Services Department at 306-765-6010.

Organizations: Volunteer Services Department

Geographic location: Birch Hills, Kinistino

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