Submitted by the Whatcom Council on Aging
When asked about what he enjoys the most about delivering Meals on Wheels, Mullis Senior Center volunteer driver Dennis Busse replied, “I have never opened the door to a grumpy person in four years of driving for Meals on Wheels. It is a very good volunteer job that I love doing. I know I am doing something significant — bringing meals to people who need them. I enjoy getting to know people and how to best serve them. For example, some participants are hard of hearing and others have difficulty getting to the door.”
Not only is the interaction with Meals on Wheels drivers meaningful to the seniors, but the drivers also develop strong connections with the seniors they serve. Busse noted, “The hardest part is when someone is not on the route anymore.”
Busse has driven both the in-town and out-of-town MOW routes, but he prefers the latter because it gives him the opportunity to drive all over San Juan Island.
Year-to-date, the number of Meals on Wheels meals delivered to homebound seniors in San Juan County has increased by more than 40 percent. While the number of homebound seniors receiving Meals on Wheels continues to grow, many other local older adults rely on friends, family or San Juan Senior Services volunteers to transport them to and from the Mullis Center where they enjoy a freshly prepared meal with friends.
In April, the Meals on Wheels and More Program added a third Senior Community Meal day per week at the Mullis Center as well as an additional Meals on Wheels delivery. Although the meals are partially federally funded and participants donate what they can, expansion of senior meals would not be possible without the support of multiple partners including San Juan County Health and Community Services (staff support and funding); The Senior Services Council of San Juan County; San Juan County Senior Center staff, operations and district committees; and the United Way of San Juan County.
Senior Community Meals are offered at the Mullis and Orcas Senior Centers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and at the Lopez Senior Center on Wednesdays and Fridays. All meals begin at approximately noon.
Anyone who is 60 and older is welcome to participate in the Senior Community Meals on a donation-only basis. The suggested donation is $5 or whatever is affordable. Those under age 60 are welcome to participate in the meals for a fee of $7. Home delivered “Meals on Wheels” are available to homebound seniors age 60-plus. These meals are also offered on a donation-only basis.
For more information about volunteering for or participating in the Senior Community Meals or Meals on Wheels programs in San Juan County, contact your local Senior Center or Julie Meyers, Meals on Wheels and More Director at 360-733-4030 ext. 1025. Meals on Wheels and More is a program of the Whatcom Council on Aging, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.