Many volunteers first volunteered with the County nutrition program and have continued on with Meals on Wheels by ACC. Some have volunteered for several years, and some for multiple decades. For these volunteers, Meals on Wheels is more than just another volunteer position: it is a lifelong opportunity to grow, feel good and have fun.
Richard, Volunteer Driver Coordinator
Eight years ago, the county nutrition program was having problems with volunteer delivery driver coordination.
“Drivers were not showing up,” Richard said, “and no one knew why.”
It turned out that volunteers were making their own arrangements with each other to fill in for absences. This created some confusion, and Richard was interested in solving the problem.
Richard created a spreadsheet scheduling system for delivery drivers. His system has carried on to Meals on Wheels and is the backbone of volunteer home-delivered meal routes. He also helps train volunteers, as he is very familiar with the routes, and finds substitutes for drivers who are absent.
Richard also enjoys volunteering because of the challenge it presents him. Spreadsheets require a lot of equations and algorithms, a perfect arena for Richard’s interest in mathematics.
He said that volunteers often stay for as long as they are physically able, some for more than 20 years, and he thinks that speaks to the importance of Meals on Wheels to the community.
“Once you become involved in Meals on Wheels,” Richard said, “it’s obvious that it’s a needed service and that you are much appreciated for providing that service.”
“We all have aging parents or grandparents,” Maureen said. “My father just turned 89, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the elderly.”
As a first year student in the Master of Social Work program at Sacramento State (CSUS), Maureen had already worked with children and families for thirteen years at Stanford Home and wanted to gain experience working with the senior population.
Through Sac State, she was assigned a one-year internship at Meals on Wheels by ACC.
During her year at Meals on Wheels, she conducted initial and reassessments to determine eligibility, delivered hot meals to homebound seniors, and developed and established the Tel-A-Friend program.
“Working with Meals on Wheels has expanded my understanding and knowledge of the needs of seniors and their unique situations, such as being frail and homebound,” she said.
Maureen’s experiences with Meals on Wheels have inspired her to continue working with seniors and, after she completes her MSW degree, she plans to work exclusively with seniors to help ensure that they receive the services they need.
“My 72-year-old neighbor had been eating from dumpsters,” Alisa said. “But thanks to the Meals on Wheels in my hometown, he started receiving nutritious meals.”
Inspired by her neighbor’s story, Alisa wanted to work with a Meals on Wheels program to help people like her neighbor and, when she moved to Sacramento, she finally had the chance.
As an intern from Sacramento City College, Alisa has done a little bit of everything at Meals on Wheels by ACC. She has been a delivery driver, meal runner, kitchen and café worker, and office volunteer.
“There are so many ways to help,” she said. “I couldn’t choose just one!”
Though she enjoyed all of her tasks, delivery driving especially touched her heart. One man on her delivery route told her every day how much he loves Meals on Wheels.
“He calls us ‘good people’,” she said. “It’s nice to know that we make a difference.”