Airdrie Meals on Wheels Society, now in its 32nd year of service, provides nutritious meals to seniors, people with disabilities, people recovering from surgery, and those who can’t cook for themselves. The non-profit organization is proud to be Airdrie’s only 100 per cent volunteer-run organization. Governed by a board of directors (and not affiliated with Airdrie Food Bank), Meals on Wheels is staffed by approximately 30 volunteers who work from a monthly schedule to meet the needs of 15 to 20 clients amounting to between 200 and 250 meals per month. Between January and the end of August this year, 1,859 meals were delivered in the community.
“We have drivers with trucks so we’ve never missed a day, even if there is a really bad storm,” says Trudy Eyre, Meals on Wheels public relations officer.
Clients receive lunch (soup and sandwich) and supper (entrée, salad and dessert) for $6. Delicious meals, which are prepared at Cedarwood Station, are delivered Monday to Friday (Saturday, Sunday and holiday meals can be ordered in advance and are delivered on Friday.) Diabetic meals and allergies can be accommodated. “We work with the kitchen. The kitchen associates the meal with the individual,” says organization vice-president Ron West.
Clients are referred by a family member, home care and some doctors’ offices. An individual can also call on his or her own behalf and long- and short-term services are available. The program is funded by the City of Airdrie and the generosity of private and corporate donations.
“Our AGM is coming up in February,” says West, “and we’re always looking for new board members.”
New volunteer drivers are also welcome. About two hours – from the time the volunteer leaves home, picks up and delivers the meals and returns to Cedarwood Station with the empty containers – would be an average commitment, with some volunteers driving more than once a week. Each driver delivers up to nine meals a day. The number of drivers varies depending on the number of meals being delivered. New volunteers are interviewed and then trained by an experienced driver.
The society has no office space but communicates via e-mail and monthly meetings at Nose Creek Valley Museum. Monthly schedules are filled out via email. Expenses are minimal – a cell phone, a website and a mailbox. “We have no overhead. We don’t even have furniture,” West says. Low costs and some fundraising help to subsidize the meals.
Besides delivering meals, volunteers are concerned for the well-being of their clients. “We have a contact number for each client,” says West. “If things don’t seem right, we follow up on that.
“It’s not just delivering meals; it’s looking out for the individual, too, because we might be the only person they see for days,” he adds.
West sees the people with whom he works as one big family. “It’s a responsibility to help your neighbour,” he says. “That’s what makes our society.”
Eyre adds: “The Airdrie community is one family. I get great satisfaction out of helping people.”
For more information on Airdrie Meals on Wheels, visit airdriemealsonwheels.ca or call 403-815-1400.