Like many people, I use my weekends to run errands, catch up on sleep and get together with loved ones. But late this summer, I decided I could do more with my time off. Perhaps support an organization in need or give back to my community in some way. So I did some research and landed on volunteering with Meals on Wheels (MOW).
Working for Macomb County, I had heard there was a need for local help. I’d never volunteered for the MOW program before, but I figured I’d give it a shot. The specific request – one Saturday morning, a total of two hours delivering boxes of non-perishable food to seniors ahead of the fall and winter months. And while that sounds fairly minor, those boxes can be a lifeline for older individuals that are homebound or unable to cook for themselves. Because when bad weather hits, normal Meals on Wheels delivery drivers cannot bring supplies and hot meals around. So seniors have to rely on the cans of soup, crackers and other snacks that are given during this one-time box drop off.
Knowing this, I woke early on that Saturday ready to get to work. I arrived promptly at 9 a.m. at the MOW distribution facility in Clinton Township and joined a line to receive my delivery route and materials. While I waited, I heard a family behind me discussing their decision to volunteer. Two parents were telling their children about the importance of giving back to their community and how their work would make a lasting impact. I couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment and felt moved by the gesture this family was making.
After a few minutes in line, I was given my instructions for the day and my car was loaded with 14 boxes. My delivery route focused in Warren and I’ll admit, I was a little nervous arriving to my first drop-off location. Questions filled my mind. Will the recipient be home? Will they talk to me? What will we talk about? In the end, I decided that I would treat this individual as my own grandparent. Greet them with a smile, ask how their day was going and alert them to the contents of the box. My nerves receded after that first door was answered by a lovely woman with a cat. She was thrilled to receive the package and we chatted about our shared love of felines. After a few minutes of conversation, I returned to my car with a smile on my face and a hint of a tear in my eye. It felt so good to make that connection and it warmed my heart in so many ways.
I carried on making my deliveries, encountering some charming folks along the way. My final stop was at the apartment of a woman who had immigrated to the United States from Europe around World War Two. She opened her door and greeted me with a booming voice. I explained my role and what was in the emergency supply box and the conversation continued from there. She was so grateful for the delivery – sharing how they had nothing in war-torn Europe and telling me how blessed she was to be in America. At one point, she even opened her cabinets to show me how full they were and told me how lucky we were to be in a country where food and resources are abundant. After sharing goodbyes and well-wishes, I left the building and reflected on that simple interaction. The woman was entirely right. I am lucky to be here and fortunate to have so much. I thought I knew that already, but volunteering for MOW made me count my blessings like never before. And I’m thankful for that.
If you are looking for the same type of life lesson, I ask you to consider volunteering with MOW – as Macomb County leaders recently announced an urgent request for volunteers with its regular delivery service. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday to more than 1,800 seniors throughout the county and volunteers ensure that this process runs smoothly. Drivers can deliver to as many seniors as they are able and routes are available in several areas. To receive more information or to sign up, click here or contact the Macomb Community Action Office of Senior Services at 586-469-5228.
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.