The social distancing protocols and other safety measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have left many feeling isolated, but now more than ever, community is crucial — just ask United Way Meals on Wheels. The senior nutrition program has faced unprecedented challenges with regard to the vulnerability of both homebound clients and the essential volunteers who deliver the meals. Dedicated individuals, however, such as Cassidy Bonner have rallied behind Meals on Wheels to support our seniors and keep them safe, healthy and well fed.
A veteran of the Marine Corps, Cassidy Bonner has committed his civilian life to giving back to his community, spending countless hours volunteering with a variety of area nonprofits and programs. His dedication even resulted in his being recognized as the inaugural Volunteer of the Year at the United Way Hands On Ignite Awards. But when the coronavirus cut into many of his regular volunteer jobs, Bonner needed another way to give back. He found it with Meals on Wheels.
“The core group of [Meals on Wheels] volunteers are seniors, and because of the pandemic, they’re having to take precautions,” said Bonner. “I saw the need and jumped up for it.”
Thanks to Bonner and hundreds of other community-minded individuals, Meals on Wheels has kept the good work rolling — delivering more meals to homebound seniors in the past few months than it did in all of last year. That comes to about 224,000 meals to clients, as well as more than another 25,000 to seniors in Jefferson County who are on the waiting list for service.
But Meals on Wheels is about more than just food: the program also serves as a vital social connection for homebound seniors. Bonner has tried to maintain the same route each week, and in doing so has built relationships with his clients.
“I didn’t think, wearing a mask, you could develop a friendship, but you do!” he said. “Even if it’s just one or two sentences a week, it builds. Especially right now with the pandemic…they may not see anyone else that day.”
Meals on Wheels is also supplementing its social aspect by enlisting volunteers to call clients on a regular basis, just to check in and make sure everyone is well and holding up.
“The community has really rallied around us,” said Becky Wright, Director of Meals on Wheels. “It means so much to our clients, just to know that people are thinking of them.”
You can help Meals on Wheels deliver hope to homebound seniors, too. Give or volunteer today to support this vital service in our community.