Local Meals on Wheels volunteer Andrea Morris looks forward to the start of each week.
“Mondays have become my favorite day,” she said. “The people are wonderful, and building relationships with those who receive the meals is so great.”
Fellow volunteer Pam Bradfield agreed.
“It is a pleasure to do this and I would really miss it if I couldn’t do it,” she said. “This is one meal that these people don’t have to worry about, and it has been a Godsend for many people in the community.”
Both women volunteer at least once a week as part of the program that provides nutritious meals and other services to the elderly, homebound and disabled, among others.
Organizers hope to continue the effort despite the likely loss of state funding later this year.
Faced with a deficit of $2.2 billion, Gov. Sonny Perdue has proposed a budget that would trim about $18.9 million from various community programs and initiatives statewide, including Meals on Wheels.
Margie Weaver is the director of the Dawson County Senior Center, which oversees the local program.
Weaver declined to say how much state funding Meals on Wheels receives, but said the local effort is financially sound. Her goal is to never have to turn people away even if state funds are eliminated.
“There are enough good people in this county that I feel we won’t have to do that,” she said. “We will do fundraisers and whatever else we need to do to keep this program going.”
The Meals On Wheels Association of America is a national organization that focuses on senior nutrition.
“We deliver about 111 hot meals five days a week to residents who live along four different routes,” Weaver said. “We also carry out frozen meals one day a week to 13 people.”
She said people on their homebound routes “really look forward to seeing the volunteers and staff.”
“Sometimes that is the only person they see all day,” she said. “So it’s really special to them to see a friendly smile, get a hug and have someone spend just a few minutes of their day with them.”
According to Weaver, the Dawson County Meals on Wheels program lost just one funding source in 2008. The loss did not significantly impact the program, Weaver said, because she anticipated it.
“We are more lucky than other counties right now,” she said. “The county has been a wonderful financial support. They have matched the federal and state grants we have received.”
Weaver has seen many changes in her nearly 25 years as director of the senior center.
“The needs of senior citizens have grown over the years, and I anticipate that growth to continue,” she said.
E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.