First Santa Claus, now the mayors. Not coming down your chimney, but hitting the road with volunteers delivering Meals on Wheels.
Bill Strauss of Woolwich, Ross Kelterborn of Wellesley and Wayne Roth of Wilmot will be Mayors for Meals on Mar. 18, helping to promote and raise awareness of the program that supplies hot meals to people unable to prepare or purchase their own.
This is the first year Mayors for Meals has taken place in Ontario. The Ontario Community Support Association picked up the idea from partner agencies in the United States, and it spread like wildfire. Mayors across the province will be heading out with Meals on Wheels volunteers next week.
“We’re not asking anyone for money, which usually is what happens when a not-for-profit is doing something,” said Veronica MacDonald, executive director of Community Care Concepts. “In this case, we need some support with volunteer drivers and people that can be involved with the meals program.”
Meals on Wheels has 63 volunteer drivers across the three townships, and they’re always looking for more. Some of those drivers are spares, some drive weekly and some are regulars. One real estate office, Royal LePage, rotates through the company, with each employee taking a turn.
There’s always turnover among drivers because some are snowbirds who are just returning from warmer climates, and some are cottagers who will soon be heading out of town.
Sharon Walsh, one of the coordinators of Meals on Wheels, said they keep the routes short – not more than eight or 10 stops, and fewer if they’re going out of town – so the food will be hot when it arrives.
For the 251 clients, the service is more than just a hot meal; it’s a chance to chat for a minute or two, and an extra set of eyes looking out for them.
These volunteers are essential to keep an eye in the community for safety reasons,” MacDonald said. “They can come back and let us know they have concerns about someone.
“We have unfortunately over the years found people in acute situations where they maybe had a fall and it’s our volunteers that have come upon them, and we’ve been able to respond quickly to get an ambulance.”
MacDonald said it was nice to get a positive response from all three mayors.
“We didn’t want to miss this opportunity because it’s really good for the community to know and for our mayors to experience hands-on what’s happening for some of their older constituents.”
Having somebody besides the regular driver delivering meals is also fun for the clients, she added.
“I think this will be an enjoyable experience. Who knows? They may have something they want to bring up with their mayor.”