Meals on Wheels volunteers bring physical, emotional nourishment
Driver Teddi Lewis and Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog met with a variety of greetings at each of their stops two weeks ago when they delivered Meals on Wheels lunch.
Charles asked the mayor about the excavation going on at the end of his block. Mary talked about living in Washington State after Skoog noticed three large photographs of Mt. St. Helens that depicted the volcano before, during, and after the explosion.
At the next stop, Lewis asked Carl if he had been out to eat lately.
"Yes - but I wasn't driving!" Carl told her with a laugh.
The CASA Senior Center serves about 125 meals per day Monday through Friday through its Meals on Wheels program.
The Town of Prescott Valley gives financial assistance to CASA, and also owns the building which houses the organization.
Not only do the volunteers deliver meals, they do a quick check on their customers' well being. Sometimes the volunteer is the only daily connection a customer has with someone outside the home. Once in a while, it is the volunteer who happens on an elderly or sick client who has fallen or needs assistance.
At one home on this particular Wednesday ride-along, no one answered Lewis' knock at the front door. She entered, calling for John, and checked each room.
"Oh, oh," Skoog said, waiting outside. "I hope this doesn't turn out to be one of those disasters."
John was away from home, probably at a doctor's appointment, Lewis said.
Rick Moslet, a driver for three years, serves about 20 meals on his route. He said drivers learn the routines of the people on their route, and they notice changes.
"You get attached to the people. When they don't get food anymore, you wonder what's happened with them," he said, adding that people heal after surgery or they move in with family.
Moslet always asks the people on his route if there's anything he can help with. Sometimes it's changing a light bulb or taking out the garbage.
"It only takes a few minutes and it's minor to me, major to them," he said. "Sometimes I'll go back if it's going to take a little more time."
Hap Arnold, president of CASA, said Northern Arizona Council of Governments pays for about 562 meals each week, and the Senior Center has to turn people away.
"I have to assume that in a lot of cases, this is the only meal a day they have," Arnold said, adding that a donation of $100 can support 30 meals for someone in need.
Moslet said he hopes someone will care enough to deliver meals to him if he needs it. For now, he said, being a driver gets him out of bed in the morning "so I can take care of my people."
"I never had a job I looked forward to. Here, I do."