Submitted by the Mullis Center
Throughout the month of March, resident celebrities from Lopez, San Juan, and Orcas Islands were invited to ride or follow along with volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers as they delivered meals to seniors on their respective islands. The goal of the celebrity ride-alongs was to foster greater community awareness about the San Juan County Senior Nutrition Program, including the impact it has on the hundreds of older adults served by the program.
The Meals on Wheels experience was a positive one for everyone involved.
“Having the opportunity to ride along as a volunteer delivering for Meals on Wheels was enlightening,” Minney said. “The amount of care, cost, and commitment are evident. The appreciation of the recipients made me extra grateful for the experience.”
The celebrity ride-alongs were coordinated by San Juan County Senior Services Specialists at the Lopez Island, Mullis and Orcas Senior Centers. These San Juan County Health and Community Services employees are responsible for coordinating the Meals and Wheels clients and deliveries, which have tripled in number during the pandemic. They also coordinate approximately 50 dedicated volunteers who help with meal prep, clean-up, deliveries, and administration. “Our San Juan County partners have contributed a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure that all homebound and self-isolating seniors receive the meals and other services they need throughout the pandemic. They are the glue that holds the Senior Nutrition Program together.” Julie Meyers, Meals on Wheels and More Director, Whatcom Council on Aging.
The celebrity drivers for each island were:
San Juan Island: Mi Casita Restaurant owner Greg Ford; San Juan County Council Member Christine Minney; and San Juan Island Fire Chief Norvin Collins.
Lopez Island: San Juan County Council Member Jamie Stephens; former Lopez Chamber of Commerce Director Christa Campbell; and Lopez Island Fire Chief Adam Bigby.
Orcas Island: Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lance Evans and San Juan County Council Member Cindy Wolf.
About the San Juan County Senior Nutrition Program
The San Juan County Senior Nutrition Program provides home-delivered “Meals on Wheels” and Senior Community Meals (currently on hold due to the pandemic) to older adults on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands. The Meals on Wheels and More program is administered by the nonprofit Whatcom Council on Aging in partnership with San Juan County Health and Community Services and the senior centers on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan, which operate under the umbrella of the Senior Services Council of San Juan County 501(c)(3). The program is partially funded through federal grants, San Juan County levy funding, senior center in-kind contributions (utilities, fuel, kitchen equipment, etc.), and by client donations. The program also relies heavily on private donations and fundraising.