By Alicia Dziak
If you are looking for a way to truly make a difference right here in Springville, Meals and Wheels for WNY is in need of volunteers.
Since 1969, Meals on Wheels for WNY, a non-profit agency, has been serving the Greater Buffalo area, to provide homebound seniors and disabled individuals with hot, healthy meals every day. The 24,000-square foot state of the art Meals on Wheels commissary is located in Buffalo and prepares almost 6,000 meals per day that are then delivered to pick-up sites throughout the region. Volunteers at Meals on Wheels for WNY’s Springville site, at the First Presbyterian Church, at 39 North Buffalo Street in Springville, deliver meals to Springville and Sardinia.
“Volunteers pick up their meals at the site location, as well as a list of the clients on their route that day and turn-by-turn instructions to go from stop to stop,” explained Rachel Leidenfrost, Chief Communications Officer for
Meals on Wheels for WNY. “Volunteers may deliver in pairs (a server and a driver) or a volunteer may do a route on his or her own. Either way, the volunteer(s) go from house to house. They hop out and deliver each client a hot lunch and cold supper, speaking with each client for a few minutes.”
Leidenfrost added that, “Volunteers provide crucial nutrition, friendly companionship and a well-being check. At the end of the route, the volunteers return their equipment to the site and report any concerns (e.g., meals are stacking up in the fridge, Mr. Smith seemed out of sorts, etc.) to the office for follow up by one of our Social Workers or Nutritionists.”
Volunteering typically takes 1-1.5 hours mid-day on weekdays. People typically deliver on a certain day of the week because it works best with their schedule, but it can be flexible. “We always need substitutes as well who might work on any day of the week<’ Leidenfrost said. “One of the best things about volunteering is that volunteers can do it as frequently or as infrequently as they’d like, so it can fit into any schedule.”
Meals on Wheels for WNY delivers five days a week, Monday-Friday. “Our most vulnerable clients receive weekend boxes with their meals on Thursday or Friday. These boxes have four freshly made and flash frozen meals that just need to be re-heated to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday,” said Leidenfrost.
In terms of helping the community, Meals on Wheels for WNY enables clients to stay home with their cherished independence and their memories. “We provide them with the medically appropriate meals they need (regular, diabetic, ground, bland, and renal) to enjoy the highest quality of health possible,” Leidenfrost said. “And both clients and caregivers get peace of mind from having Meals on Wheels near. Our volunteers are in the home every weekday so when they notice something amiss, it often serves as an early warning system for families.”
Leidenfrost emphasized that volunteers are vital to the program. “None of this would be possible without the volunteers,” she said. “We have 1,700 amazing volunteers, 400 of whom are in the field every single day. They are the lifeblood of our program. We are incredibly grateful for the time they give to us, our clients and the community.”
She added that, while it’s not as exciting as the food and friendship and smiles, Meals on Wheels for WNY is also a great financial investment. “We can feed a senior for about $3,000 per year versus the $100,000+ that it costs for seniors to go into assisted living,” she explained. “Reducing unnecessary outlays onto the healthcare system is good for all of us as taxpayers and community members.”
Meals on Wheels for WNY covers 980 square miles in Erie County – going from Clarence in the north, all the way through the City of Buffalo and suburbs and as far south as Angola and Sardinia. (We’re actually the second largest program in the nation out of 5,000.)
People who want to volunteer can call the office at 716-822-2002 ext. 21 and speak with our Volunteer Relations Associate Ashley Yerdon. They can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.