United Way helps provide meals for seniors

Editor’s Note: This is the next in a series of articles about the member agencies of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

BELPRE – Seniors around Washington County in need are getting regular meals through Washington-Morgan County Community Action.

The organization receives $2,000 from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley to help provide its senior nutrition program for homebound or mentally/physically impaired individuals.

Catherine Rees, Program Assistant for Senior and Community Services, said the organization does a Meals on Wheels program that provides a lunch to homebound seniors throughout Washington County.

The organization provides around 3,600 meals a month through funding from the United Way, the Senior Service Levy and other sources. The program is available to people who are 60 years old and who are homebound. There clients also include people in the PASSPORT program who receive in-home services paid for by Medicaid and state funds.

“Most of the clients we serve have difficulties due to health related issues,” Rees said.

Many could survive on making sandwiches or bowls of cerel for themselves, but being able to provide a nutritious meal for themselves is difficult.

“Nutrition is important,” Rees said. “Also, having someone stop in is helpful for them.”

Meals are delivered by volunteers Monday through Friday. The meal deliverer is someone who is able to check on these people and call for assistance if there are any immediate problems that need taken care of, Rees said. They also provide someone the clients are able to interact with.

“Many of these people don’t have visitors or family,” she said. “It is a smiling face.”

Washington-Morgan County Community Action has six drivers for Washington County and three for Morgan County. The agency has clients in Belpre, Bartlett, Little Hocking, Belpre, Marietta, Vincent, Beverly, Lowell and New Matamoras.

Rees said the program helps many seniors maintain their independence.

“Our program helps seniors stay in their homes longer,” she said.

Bill Jones, of Belpre, has been on the program for a few years. He is legally blind due to diabetes, and admits he could a danger around a stove.

“They always come right around 12 p.m.,” he said. “They are always on time whether it is raining or snowing.”

The man who delivers his food, Jim, has become a friend to Jones.

“We became fast friends,” Jones said. “He has a wealth of experiences in life.

“I never knew that the comraderie would develop.”

Even though their time is limited, they have had many lively discussions on a wide range of topics.

Jim is even friendly with Jones’ Golden Labrador Retriever, Coca, to the point the dog is always excited to see him and recognizes his car and barks in excitement.

Many times Jones is waiting with his silverware ready.

“They usually gets here just in time,” Jones said of his needing to eat to manage his condition. “Their timing is just right.”

At times, if Jones is laying down and Jim, or another volunteer who fills in, will check on him to make sure everything is all right and asks if they need to call anyone.

During those times, the volunteer always puts the food in the frig where Jones can find it when he is ready.

“I never have to worry about where the food is,” Jones said. “They also make sure the doors are locked.

“The food is excellent. I am really happy with the volunteers. It has really been a good experience.”