By Rebecca Fending
With the dog days of summer upon us, everyone needs something to power through the summertime heat in the state. An excellent way to brighten up the season is by volunteering with a local non-profit. Neighborly, partnered with Meals on Wheels (MOW), of Pinellas County is currently in need of volunteers and would love your help.
The organization is a pioneer in home caregiving and hot meal delivery for seniors who are unable to care or cook for themselves. Not only do they provide meals and friendly visits from volunteers, but they also offer transportation services to seniors. Meals on Wheels has dedicated and caring volunteers who have convinced and recruited others to begin their own post-retirement career in volunteering.
Get to Know These Volunteers This Summer
For example, meet Jack Corey. Jack has been a volunteer meal delivery driver with Meals on Wheels in Gulfport for 17 years. Originally born and raised in St. Pete, Jack wanted to continue helping his community even in retirement. Prior to retiring, Jack designed sailboats for a living and even sailed the seas for three years with his wife, Jean. When asked what the most rewarding part of his volunteer experience, Jack said, “I’ve made so many friends with both clients and fellow volunteers. For most of the clients, I’m the only contact they have all day, so we quickly become friends.”
Jack goes above and beyond for the friends he’s made. Jack explained how one of the clients he would regularly deliver to often joked, saying, “What’s on the menu today? Steak and lobster?” After having a good laugh, Jack surprised that same client with a very special Christmas dinner that year: fresh cooked filet, lobster tail and a glass of wine.
Neighborly/Meals on Wheels has no shortage of fabulous volunteers. David Cooke has volunteered with Meals on Wheels Pinellas County at the Safety Harbor location for just over a year. Though now retired, he has an extensive background in non-profit management for organizations that care for neurotypical or handicapped adults. He was drawn to Meals on Wheels during the pandemic over the last year. “I was looking for a good nonprofit organization to put my time into, and Meals on Wheels was perfect.”
David helps conduct orientation meetings with Hilary Douglass, the Community Engagement Manager for MOW of Pinellas County. He helps familiarize new volunteers with their duties while on the job, as well as what to expect as they go about their routes. “I always tell new volunteers, don’t be surprised if you have to make deliveries in the rain, because it is Florida, after all. You may also walk up those three flights of stairs to deliver a meal, and you’re greeted with a ‘none today, thank you’ notice on the client’s door. That’s just a day on the job.”
Similar to Jack, David has come to make many friends with fellow volunteers and clients just over the past year. David told the story of how one woman he regularly delivers meals to recently lost her husband due to a terminal illness. As differently memories and anniversaries arise, David has learned more about her life and grown close to her.
If you would like to begin your Meals on Wheels story, visit neighborly.org for more information, questions or to view different volunteering opportunities.