MOW with MOM (and Dad)
April 25th, 2011
My work has a
stupid unusual policy regarding Easter Monday. The church that houses our administrative offices is closed, so we can’t come to the office. But it’s not an official holiday, so we’re expected to work. Either you have to take a vacation day, or work at another program site. It’s weird, but it’s also a nice chance for me to get out of the fundraising ivory tower and spend time in the programs I’m raising money for.
Today, my parents joined me for a morning of volunteering. We sorted donations at the Food Pantry and also delivered Meals on Wheels to 15 elderly men and women. Our Pantry receives massive daily donations of baked goods and produce from several local grocery stores and so we spent a happy hour up to our elbows in bagels, muffins, artichokes, and cherry tomatoes. (There was so much today that we were also able to take home a nice loaf of pumpernickel bread and one simply named “farmhouse” that we intend to serve with beer cheddar fondue tomorrow night. Oh my.)
Next we hit the road, armed with our GPS and a car full of meals to deliver to neighborhood shut-ins. I’d never delivered Meals on Wheels before and was really looking forward to the experience. The reality, though, wasn’t quite what I had expected and left me feeling pretty sad. We visited a stream of small, cluttered, dingy apartments in a string of dilapidated apartment buildings. Broken shutters, peeling paint, cracked sidewalks. Here and there, a defiant bit of home beautification peaked through — a small tended garden, a flag, a porch swing — but on the whole, the area we drove through was pretty run down.
The people we met were pretty run down, too. Most of them don’t have family or friends nearby to care for them (hence the meals) and don’t get out much. It weighed on my heart to realize that the five minutes I chatted with them as I brought a tray of Salisbury steak and limp Brussels sprouts might very well be the highlight of their day. But they were all so friendly and grateful and sweet. Hearing their enthusiastic thanks and seeing their smiles as we arrived helped to lift my spirits.
I’m not sure I’ll do Meals on Wheels again any time soon. The Food Pantry is a better fit for me. But it certainly helped to paint a picture of the people we serve and to remind me why I do the work I do.
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