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Be an Angel: Delivering a meal and a smile

The comforting smell of food fills the air as you walk through the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center community room. Mary Allen, Site Coordinator for the TVCCA Senior Nutrition Program organizes the meals each day for the dedicated Meals on Wheels volunteers that will travel a total of 25 miles five days a week to deliver them in Mystic and Stonington.

“I like that we bring smiles to people’s faces every day and meals to those that don’t have access to healthy food,” she said.

Lisa Hilliard has been a volunteer driver for MOW with TVCCA’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program for two years and really enjoys being a part of the program. She first heard about the opportunity to deliver meals to homebound seniors living independently through a family member who was delivering meals in another part of the state.

Hilliard spends two days a month on her route in Pawcatuck, bringing not only a nutritious meal to homebound seniors but also a smile and caring community spirit. Before she leaves to deliver the meals, she spends a few minutes in the kitchen with Allen going over the routes and the appropriate meals packed for each person. Then it’s out the door with the delivery bags to visit her first meal recipient.

She has added a nice touch to her volunteer meal delivery by using a basket to put the meal in as she walks up to the door. First stop, a World War II veteran who lives alone and greets her with a smile and a fist bump as she enters his kitchen to say hi and deliver his meal for the day.

In addition to delivering a healthy meal, Hilliard’s presence is a wellness check to make sure the person answers the door, accepts the meal. If she notices any health concerns she contacts the TVCCA site coordinator who follows up to make sure the senior is okay.

“There is something special about having face to face contact with someone you are helping,” she said.

For most of the MOW recipients, Hilliard is the only person they come in contact within a day or even a week.

“I live alone and anyone I see is a blessing,” said one client who has no family in the state. “I love her, she is a peach.”

While the drop-off of food only takes a few minutes, the positive impact and time given is priceless and lasting.

“I think it’s great,” another client said. “I look forward to the delicious meals.”

More than 1,500 meals per day Monday through Friday are provided through the TVCCA commissary in Bozrah for 808 clients in New London and Windham counties.

“I thank everyone,” a third client said. “There are a lot of good people and because of the meals delivered I can stay home.”

Volunteers offer the support someone needs to remain living at home. Contact us to hear how your help may improve the quality of life for an elderly person through TVCCA’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. RSVP currently needs volunteers ages 55 and older to deliver meals or shop for someone living independently in your community. For more information, call program coordinator Georgia James at (860) 425-6608.

Gina King is the director of senior volunteer services for TVCCA.

Be an Angel is a regular feature in The Times. To contribute, email times@theday.com.

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