By Samantha Gluck
Hunger, social isolation, and loss of independence are three of the primary challenges faced by senior citizens, especially those who are homebound or disabled. Meals on Wheels Senior Services (MOWSS) of Rockwall County aims to provide crucial support to seniors via the delivery of nutritious meals and friendly visits. “When seniors have the right support and regularly interact with others, they experience marked improvement in quality of life,” says Maureen Cook, development director for the nonprofit organization.
The pandemic, associated lockdowns, and worries over the disease’s potentially devastating effects on the elderly required Meals on Wheels to alter the way they serve their clients. Before March 2020, the group’s meals were prepared daily in a local public school’s kitchen. Volunteers then delivered the meals in-person to each senior citizen client and took a few minutes to engage them in friendly conversation. But when schools shuttered in mid-March due to lockdowns, Maureen says the school informed the MOWSS staff, and 20 volunteers were not allowed to enter the school due to their safety protocols.
“News that our clients would not receive delivered meals that week was very upsetting. We took action immediately and put together more than 400 emergency boxes of non-perishable food items and delivered them to each client. Our talented Executive Director, Margie VerHagen, had a ‘plan B’ in the works,” says Maureen, “which was implemented the very next week. It involves a once-a-week delivery, every Thursday, of nutritious frozen meals. Each meal includes healthy and balanced main courses, a dessert, and milk. The frozen meals cost the organization an additional dollar per meal. While one extra dollar may not sound like much, Meals on Wheels of Rockwall County is on track to deliver up to 95,000 meals this year. This, plus a 38% demand increase for service, adds up to a hefty additional expense.
Since volunteers can’t visit senior citizen clients in person due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, they call each client daily as a friendly check-up on well-being. Many of the organization’s elderly clients are homebound or disabled, further isolating them from social interaction opportunities. This puts them at greater risk of depression and loneliness. “We’re committed to continuing to provide relief to our community’s most vulnerable citizens,” explains Maureen, saying that their unofficial motto in light of the pandemic is, “We never stopped!”
The ongoing restrictions on gatherings and public events have negatively impacted annual fundraising events for the organization. Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to Meals on Wheels and spread the word to others. Also, keep in touch for information about their 4th annual gala, and visit Rockwallmealsonwheels.org for more details about MOWSS of Rockwall County.
950 Williams Street Building C, Suite 200
Rockwall, Texas 75087