(Contributed image).

(Contributed image).

Red Deer’s Meals on Wheels can’t roll without more volunteers

Drivers also perform wellness checks and much need social contact: co-ordinator

Meals on Wheels kept up food deliveries to shut-in Red Deerians throughout the pandemic, but an aging volunteer base is causing some road bumps this summer.

Program coordinator Louise Lamberigts said the loyal volunteers who signed on to help deliver meals after retiring in their 60s are now in their 80s. Several are having to stepping down from their posts, creating a need for half-a-dozen more volunteers with access to vehicles.

Drivers don’t have to devote every noon hour to the cause. Lamberigts said if they can only help one or two days a week, that would be great. If they want to only fill in when other drivers are unavailable, she would take that too.

“Meals on Wheels can’t roll without them. We need (volunteers) to provide an essential service,” she added.

The non-profit has operated in Red Deer since 1979, helping older people stay in their own homes for longer. Lamberigts said some Meals on Wheels clients are also released from hospital and aren’t up to cooking for themselves.

About 100 people in Red Deer rely on the service for lunch and/or dinner. Each meal costs $9 and is delivered during the noon-hour.

In decades past, more Red Deerians were Meals on Wheels clients, but the numbers dropped off after assisted living facilities were built in the city with communal dining rooms, said Lamberigts. However, not everybody can, or wants, to live in those facilities. Some people prefer staying in their homes and getting their meals delivered.

Brotherz Diner, at 188 Northey Ave, caters all the Meals on Wheels lunches. Drivers pick them up from that location, distributing them to an average of 10 clients.

“Our volunteers love doing what they do,” added Lamberigts, noting that Meals on Wheels drivers also perform wellness checks while interacting with their clients. They recognize they are providing much-needed human contact and socialization for people who are stuck at home.

“It gives them a sense of well-being, themselves. They enjoy helping the vulnerable,” said Lamberigts.

Anyone interested in volunteering can email rdmealsonwheels@shaw.ca or call 403-340-2511.

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