Call to Action to Feed the Need
Monday through Friday, hundreds of volunteers arrive at around 11:15am to sites throughout Erie County to load small ovens and coolers into their cars, and drive off in teams of 2 volunteers to deliver a meal and a smile to thousands of homebound adults. For many of these recipients, the volunteer is the only personal contact that they will have that day. The chance to chat with the friendly volunteer for a few minutes is as important to the recipient’s well-being as the nutritious hot and cold meals that the volunteer brings.
Meals on Wheels for WNY has long faced a critical shortage of volunteers at several meal delivery sites in the City of Buffalo and several other townships. In order to deliver meals at these sites, Meals on Wheels relies on paid drivers to get out the meals. The cost of paid drivers reduces the funds available to purchase food, equipment, or other necessary expenses. Many days, staff members fill in on routes that are not covered by volunteers. While staff is happy to help to fill the organization’s primary mission of ensuring that meals are promptly and safely delivered, they lose time for the critical functions that they perform for the organization.
Meals on Wheels for WNY currently has a waiting list of 100 – 150 people. In order to add a route, the site must recruit 2 volunteers to cover 5 days per week, or 10 additional volunteers.
Finally, the agency also is looking to develop a cadre of volunteers who can step in during difficult times such as those days when a winter storm batters our area. This would include a list of substitute drivers, and drivers with 4-wheel drive vehicles.
The sites that are in most critical need of volunteers are in the City of Buffalo (Black Rock, Broadway, East Buffalo, Lovejoy, and the West Side), Angola, South Cheektowaga and Maryvale.
Meals on Wheels has invited RSVP staff to serve on a committee to develop creative ideas to increase the volunteer base throughout the City of Buffalo and Erie County, leaving each of the 21 Meals on Wheels site locations fully staffed with volunteers (drivers and servers for each route),and a list of substitute volunteers as backup. The goal is to eliminate program wait lists and the need for paid drivers and servers.
The committee wants to help Meals on Wheels build stronger ties with community minded groups such as churches, civic organizations, schools, unions and retiree groups, and local businesses, and invite their members to consider adopting a route.
RSVP challenges our volunteers: Do you know an individual, business or organization that might step forward to deliver one or two routes per week in the locations where volunteers are urgently needed?
RSVP would love to hear your ideas. Delivering a meal only takes about one hour, and the rewards are priceless!