Meals on Wheels, Etc. celebrates 45 years of tasteful service to those in need.
The client testimonials speak volumes:
“I thank you all so much; for the big hearts you are blessed with to help others. You really have blessed me. I am not as well and fit as I was before the sickness and surgery. Please thank all for me and keep up the good work.”
“Meals on Wheels: Thank you so very much for the wonderful, unexpected Christmas presents. It made my holiday extra special. The meals that your helpers deliver to my home are so welcome, as there are many days when I just can’t get up to even dress myself, much less prepare something to eat. Thank you.”
For the past 45 years, Meals on Wheels, Etc. has been the driving force that fuels local seniors in need with good food and great friendships. With the help of more than 250 volunteers, the organization delivers nutritious meals and support services to homebound seniors throughout Seminole County. In fact, more than 144,000 meals and countless acts of kindness are delivered each year.
Established in 1973 by a small group of people concerned about the welfare of area seniors, the program has evolved into a community-based nonprofit organization providing home-delivered meals, neighborhood dining, and transportation services to seniors facing financial hardship or medical challenges. The program also offers additional support such as care management, housekeeping services, minor home repairs, weatherization assistance, and chore services to Seminole County residents age 60 and older.
“I am particularly passionate about the ’Etc.’ part of the Meals on Wheels program,” says Larry Muse, the organization’s new community relations manager. A longtime Lake Mary resident, Larry was a Meals on Wheels, Etc. volunteer and sat on its board of directors for many years prior to his new role. “Beyond the wonderful meal service, we meet a lot of needs for our seniors, and we provide assistance in so many areas. In addition to providing delicious meals made in our commercial kitchen in Sanford, what makes us unique is that more than 30 percent of our revenue comes from our in-house catering company, Top Hat Catering, and it’s been instrumental in helping us fund the agency.”
Top Hat Catering, run by Chef Delaño Lambertclare, assists with the program’s daily meal delivery service and also offers catering services for corporate events, private parties, and even weddings.
“It’s been phenomenal to see the organization grow and add more services to support our seniors and our revenue base,” says Sherry Fincher, the executive director of Meals on Wheels, Etc., who has been with the organization for 26 years. “We rely on the support of hundreds of volunteers who deliver much more than a meal. They offer a friendly smile and an important safety check. Volunteers are the heart of our organization.”
Although Meals on Wheels, Etc. is serving more than 600 meals each day, there are over 260 seniors on the waiting list for meals and other services.
“The senior population here in Seminole County is growing, and the need to serve them is growing exponentially,” Sherry says. “Thanks to the support from the community and our volunteers, we are doing well, and with the help of additional funding, we can meet this need and continue to serve our seniors for years to come.”
A Well-Deserved Party
On October 11, Meals on Wheels, Etc. hosted its annual volunteer appreciation luncheon at the Lake Mary Events Center. More than 200 attendees joined together in communion and camaraderie to celebrate the organization’s 45 years of service to the senior community. Guests also enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by Top Hat Catering, Meals on Wheels, Etc.’s in-house catering company.
“This is a truly amazing group of selfless, generous, patient, kind, and giving individuals making a positive difference in the lives of seniors here in our community,” says Larry Muse, community relations manager.
To make the day truly special, Mayor David Mealor of Lake Mary presented the organization with a proclamation naming October 11 as Meals on Wheels, Etc. Volunteer Appreciation Day.
Ophelia Falls, Sanford
“I have been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for 10 years. I’ll do whatever I have to do for my clients. In December around the holidays, I do my home cooking and bring corn bread for them. I have one lady who asks me just to come inside so she can see my smile. One day, I drew a big smile in a card and gave it to her. She loved it. I believe what goes around comes around.”
Ed Wilson, Lake Mary
“I started with a church group, and then I just kept on doing it over the last 15 years. I get to know so many people on my route. We become friends and they start to rely on you. It helps that I love to talk. I like to have a story of the day for all my clients and get them to join in the conversation. We’re the last bastion for a lot of them.”
Randy Duncan, Geneva
“It’s not only about the meals, it’s about the company you provide. Some of my clients are starving for company. It’s been a real blessing to me to be able to do this. I’ve been visiting my clients for seven years now, and I help them with anything they need like handy work. So many of them worked hard in their lives and are still mentally very active.”
How Can You Help This Holiday Season?
With help from the community, on Christmas Day, Meals on Wheels Etc. delivers a gift along with a delicious, nutritious holiday meal to our seniors.
To find out how you, your company, or your church or community group can help, contact Larry Muse at LarryMuse@MealsEtc.org or 407-333-8877, ext 103.
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