Did you know that if you can spare just one hour a week or a month, you can help end senior hunger in our community? United Way’s Meals on Wheels is dedicated to providing nutritious meals to homebound seniors throughout Jefferson County, and we need you!
Volunteers are the driving force behind Meals on Wheels; and when they make their deliveries (on a schedule designed to be at their convenience), they provide so much more than food alone. Many of our clients live alone, so a smile and a kind word from a Meals on Wheels volunteer might be the only personal interaction they have on a regular basis. And that human connection goes a long way toward making them feel cared for and a part of the community.
Unsurprisingly, Meals on Wheels experienced drastic changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. To minimize risk, delivery schedules were changed to provide multiple shelf-stable meals once a week. But thanks to immediate adjustments and our dedicated staff and volunteers, not a single delivery was missed. In 2021 alone, 426,298 meals were delivered, and 744 new clients were added to routes.
In addition to preparing and packing meals directly out of the Meals on Wheels kitchen on United Way of Central Alabama’s campus, the program also partners with nearly 30 senior centers in Jefferson County to reach a broader audience. The Bessemer Senior Center, for example, is a hub where longtime volunteer Walter McAlister serves as the Volunteer Group Coordinator. Walter has been involved for more than 20 years.
“My mother-in-law was involved, and if I were off on the day that she delivered, I would ride with her,” he said. After that first delivery, he couldn’t help but stay involved. “You fall in love with the people. You get so attached to the clients.”
When asked why the work is so important to him, Walter explained, “These are human beings. Because of that, we should all be doing something to make the world better.”
Are you interested in helping make our community a better place? As Walter said, “You don’t have to have a special skillset to volunteer; you just need a willingness to go.” Visit Home – Meals on Wheels (mowjeffco.org) to learn more about how you can be involved. Whether you volunteer for a delivery route, donate financially or call seniors to have a chat and check on their health and safety, there’s a place for you!