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Meals on Wheels Expands Service, Seeks Volunteers

by on April 30, 2015 6:25 AM

Serving about 1,000 meals a week to community members in need and set to expand its days of service, State College Area Meals on Wheels is looking for more volunteers.

"We have most of the resources we need, except for volunteers," says Christine Tyler, the executive director of MOW in State College.

The organization — occupying a space in the Grace Lutheran Church at 205 S. Garner St. — is a program that delivers meals to people in their home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own food.

While Meals on Wheels already delivers meals to clients on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Tyler says the board of directors has always envisioned expanding its service to all five days of the workweek.

Celebrating its 44th anniversary, Meals on Wheels is now campaigning to finally make the change.

In a survey that is not fully complete, about 40 percent of current clients have already said they would be interested in signing up to receive meals five days a week, Tyler says.

Increased service is tentatively planned to start June 15.

But expanding services to support more community members and serve more meals means that Meals on Wheels will need about 50 new volunteers.

Currently, about 100 volunteers deliver some 320 meals each delivery day to roughly 160 clients.

Volunteers working in the kitchen arrive at 8 a.m. and go to work preparing both cold and hot meals. They finish up at about 10 a.m. 

There are nine delivery routes.

Drivers who transport the food to each client's house arrive at the Grace Lutheran Church by 10 a.m. along with volunteers called "visitors," who actually deliver the food from the car to the client's door.

These volunteers have the chance to interact directly and become close with the clients, but volunteers also develop close bonds with one another.

Tyler, who has worked at Meals on Wheels for a year and a half but has worked in similar services for 30 years, says the camaraderie that volunteers develop at Meals on Wheels is unlike any she's ever seen.

"Each morning there is a different atmosphere among the volunteers," Tyler says. "On Fridays, the kitchen volunteers have coffee together every morning and just chat."

The group is hosting an open house at the Grace Lutheran Church on May 18, 20 and 22 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The organization's 10th annual benefit is set just a few days earlier on May 14 at the Nittany Lion Inn. The benefit is one way that Meals on Wheels supports itself since the organization opts out of government funding, Tyler says.

The public is invited to attend the benefit, which includes a live and silent auction, and can purchase tickets for $125.

Those interested in volunteering, becoming a client or purchasing tickets for the benefit can call Meals on Wheels at (814) 237-8135.

Tyler says, "Volunteers don't have to be here, but they choose to be here and I think that is the real beautify of it."


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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.
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