Delivering More than "Just a Meal"
Every other Tuesday around late morning for the past five years or so, Susan Woolsey picks up her father, Charles Pinkerton.
First of many stops is the kitchen at St. Clair Street Senior Center to pick up food they deliver as part of the Meals on Wheels program sponsored by Mid-Cumberland Human Resources Agency.
From there, they deliver hot meals to homebound seniors on one of the 15 daily routes that feed some 135 persons per weekday.
"I like to see the nice peoples' faces when we take the food to them," Woolsey said just before starting a recent delivery route. "It is a nice way to spend a lunch hour. And I get to do it with my dad."
Woolsey is one of several employees at Alexander Automotive Group in Murfreesboro who are allowed to spend time during business hours volunteering for the Meals on Wheels program.
"We split it up," Woolsey says of fellow employees helping Meals on Wheels. "There are more employees involved. They like to give back to the community. We are very involved with the United Way Rutherford campaign."
According to Debbie Willis, director of the Meals on Wheels program in Murfreesboro, it is important for local businesses and civic clubs and individual volunteers to get involved. Currently, there is a waiting list of 20 people for Meals on Wheels, meaning there is an immediate need for at least two more routes to be serviced each day.
"Alexander (auto group) has been wonderful to do that," said Willis, who has worked two decades for Meals on Wheels in Rutherford County, including the past 10 years as Murfreesboro director. "It shows they care about the people here in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. To let their employees go and do this, which takes an hour or more of their time, and come back to work and then be able to relax and eat their lunch also, I think that is great and wonderful.
"I wish more businesses would do that and get involved that way."
Murfreesboro resident Mary Parrish has been receiving Meals on Wheels meals for three-plus years. And at age 86, she credits partially her daily meals for her good health.
"I am in good health," she said. "And I give Meals on Wheels a lot of credit for that, because I wouldn't have cooked such healthy meals for myself."
A Nashville company specializing in meals for seniors cooks all meals for the Meals on Wheels programs that service 13 Middle Tennessee counties through Mid-Cumberland Human Resources Agency. They are designed by a registered dietitian and cooked for specific health needs.
"It is a wonderful thing to have a wonderful meal," Parrish said. "I do not like to cook so much, so it is wonderful to get a well-prepared meal that is so well-thought out. And the people who deliver the meals are so gracious.
"I have no complaints whatsoever."
About half of funding for Meals on Wheels comes from federal grants. A large part of the remaining local budget comes from United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
"United Way is wonderful to us," Willis said. "They are a big supporter. ... Wherever we get money, we get it. And the folks donate whatever they can."
That includes one lady who gives her Meals on Wheels deliverer two quarters every day to help offset some of the costs. Another homebound person recently fell one morning and was discovered and assisted by the volunteer.
"She couldn't reach the phone," Willis said. "But she knew her Meals on Wheels person was coming that day. So, she scooted herself over by the door. When he came, he helped her. They save a lot of lives."
It is the gratitude on the part of those being delivered the food that keeps Woolsey and her dad volunteering for Meals on Wheels.
"I think it is important because for a lot of these folks, it is the only contact they have with people during the day," Woolsey said. "Sure, they have family and friends who come visit them, but they meet me at the door and say, 'I am so glad you are here. It is good to see you.' And it's the same people every time."
And Meals on Wheels allows more people to remain in their homes for longer periods of time.
"We have such a demand for our services," Willis said. "People are living longer. ... When I first started this, and to have somebody who is 100 years old, that was really odd. Now, we've got people who are 100 years old.
"Everybody wants to live in their own home and stay with their own stuff where they have lived and grew up. Nobody really wants to go to a nursing home. So, with our program and other programs, they can do that."
To contact Meals on Wheels, visit mchra.com or call 615-895-1870.
Courtesy of the Daily News Journal; Greg Pogue; 2/22/2011
MCHRA takes home making to next level
The term homemaker has been around for decades, if not centuries.
For most people today, an apron-donning, vacuum-cleaning housewife from the 50s is the stereotypical image that comes to mind when the word appears.
However, the spotlight organization of this week's United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties annual campaign is taking the homemaker phrase to the next level.
Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency, better known as MCHRA, established the Homemaker Program to serve and protect residents in the community who are vulnerable to abuse or neglect.
"It's a great pleasure to know when I go in a client's home I am truly making a difference no matter how small it is in their life," said Regina Watkins, a Homemaker Program caregiver.
"We work with children, elderly and mentally challenged. Sometimes we are their only visitors because they have no family," she continued.
Based on a persons income maintenance, such as Social Security Insurance or Medicaid, income eligibility which falls below the State of Tennessee's established standards, or a person who is simply determined by Department of Human Services or Department of Children's Services to be in need, may qualify for the Homemaker Program.
It was specifically designed for adults or children who may be susceptible to neglect, abuse or exploitation.
Homemakers provide assistance to seniors in the manner of housework, preparing meals, grocery shopping, transportation to and from doctor's visits and personal care. All in hopes of preventing admittance to a senior living home or nursing home.
Caregivers are para-professionals who meet a state requirement of training hours before representing Homemakers cause. When assisting parents and families, their main objective is to teach the parent basic parenting skills including budget how-to's, personal hygiene and nutrition for adults and children.
"This job is very challenging. Most people don't realize what we have to face. I love my job and I feel very blessed for the chance to give back," Watkins added.
MCHRA covers 13 counties in Middle Tennessee: Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Stewart, Trousdale, Williamson and Wilson.
The Homemaker Program is funded in part by: Tennessee DHS, Tennessee DCS, Greater Nashville Area Agency on Aging and Disability, Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, United Way, local city and county governments, and also private contributions.
If you would like to make a contribution to Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency's Homemaker Program, you can contact them by phone or mail. All donations are tax deductible.
A referral can be made for Homemaker services for someone you know by calling 850-3909 (toll free 1-866-707-8791).
Or you may visit www.mchra.org to fill out an available form.
By: Sarah Fryar, Murfreesboro Post
Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2010
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