Gina Thomsen and Louise Lamberigts with Red Deer Meals on Wheels prepare meals for delivery. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Meals on Wheels looks for drivers

Volunteers needed for long-running program

Red Deer Meals on Wheels is looking for a couple more volunteer drivers to deliver noon-hour meals to people who have trouble cooking or getting out to purchase food.

Program co-ordinator Louise Lamberigts said a few volunteers are on vacation or dealing with medical issues, so she has put out the call for drivers.

“Four would be wonderful. It would take the stress off of some of the spares. They came in to be spare drivers, but I’m calling them in on a regular basis now,” Lamberigts said.

From Monday to Friday, drivers gather at 11 a.m. at Blue Sage Kitchen, where the meals are cooked. Meal containers are quickly filled and vehicles are loaded up by 11:15 a.m.

Between 80 and 100 meals are delivered.

“We hit the ground running every day, and then all of a sudden, it’s done,” Lamberigts said about the burst of activity at the Normandeau restaurant.

She said volunteers just need gas in their vehicle and about 90 minutes to collect and deliver meals once a week.

“We have a good group and we’re looking forward to embracing new people,” Lamberigts said.

Meals on Wheels board president Noreen Odell has been driving for 11 years. It runs in her family. Her parents were drivers for the program in the Okanagan, and her mother-in-law was a driver in Wetaskiwin.

“The nice thing about Meals on Wheels is you’re directly helping the person who needs the help. It’s direct. It’s hands-on and very satisfying,” Odell said.

“In many cases, you are the only person they see that day and they’re just so happy to see you. It’s great to give them a smile and a meal.”

Drivers often do the same routes and get to know the clients. Red Deer has about 37 volunteer drivers and some have been with the program for more than 20 years, she said.

Anyone interested in being a driver can call 403-340-2511.

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Noreen Odell, Red Deer Meals on Wheels board president, gets ready to deliver meals. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

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