PREBLE COUNTY — Feeding area senior citizens is just one important undertaking of the Preble County Council on Aging staff and its volunteers.
“We believe in supporting local seniors’ hunger, for food and human connection because it is a birthright, not a luxury,” PCCOA’s Holly Steele said. “In our ongoing effort to feed the seniors of our community nutritious meals with side dishes of diminishing isolation and loneliness, cultivating independence, and a heaping spoonful of increasing quality of life, the need continues to grow.”
According to Steele, the Preble County Council on Aging currently feeds about 120 seniors home delivered meals every week.
“We have 40 seniors on a growing waiting list,” she added.
According to 2015 Meals on Wheels America research, 87 percent of seniors needing Meals on Wheels are physically unable to shop for groceries, compared to 23 percent of the average seniors. “Seniors who are in need of home-delivered meal services represent an extremely frail and vulnerable population, one with significant health and social support needs,” Steele said. “This is why we have Meals on Wheels at the senior center.”
Last Dec. 20, the center’s annual Holiday Basket Delivery Drive was held.
“We were able to deliver a bounty of food to 121 seniors all over Preble County,” Steele noted. “Thank you to all the community members and businesses that donated food to this cause. Thank you to all the staff, board members, and people of the community that donated their time on a brisk Tuesday morning to help pack, load and deliver these baskets.”
“I felt very fortunate to share in this experience this year distributing food baskets to Senior citizens in the area,” December Harper, a board member and volunteer said. “If you ever want to be humbled, volunteer to be a part of this process. As we delivered the baskets and heard the experiences of our driver, Gary Vest, and then some of the stories the seniors also told, I couldn’t help but realize how fortunate I am in life and how even above the need for food the main thing I saw was loneliness. If you know a senior that needs some assistance or just wants to come to the Senior Center, please call the Council on Aging and see what they have to offer, better yet volunteer or donate, you will not regret it.”
According to Steele, the agency received testimonies from some of the seniors who were recipients of the holiday baskets
Carolann K. wrote, “To all the angels that prepared, the Christmas Package I received on the 20th of December, thank you.”
“Another recipient, who is also a home-delivered meal client shared this with us, ‘I wanted to thank every one of you for the meals I receive every day and for the box of food that was delivered to me for Christmas. It was a wonderful surprise and gift. The work you all do every day is appreciated,’” Steele noted.
“We continue to make strides in our community to feed, nourish and visit with our local senior citizens throughout the year. As you can tell, the seniors are grateful and fulfilled to receive our offerings. Even one of our volunteers and board member December, was humbled with her experience and the connections she made with our driver, as well as the recipients of the holiday baskets,” Steele said.
“We do what we do because we love what we do,”she added.
According to Steele, anyone to who would like to be a part of the growing team supporting seniors in Preble County, “your devotion will be appreciated by many.”
Steele said one way people can help out is through the Senior Companionship Program. “This program helps community seniors stay in their homes and live independently by offering friendship and emotional support,” Steele said.
Senior Companionship provides an in-home companion and/or a daily telephone reassurance call. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for this program should call Stacey or Bev at 937-456-4947.
The second opportunity to give is through the Sponsor-A-Senior Program. This program helps to eliminate senior hunger in Preble County, and allows the center to feed the 40-plus seniors currently on a waiting list for Meals on Wheels.
According to Meals on Wheels America, “A senior who receives daily-delivered meals experiences the greatest improvements in health and quality of life compared to a senior who receives, weekly delivered meals or no meals at all.” And “A senior who lives alone and receives daily-delivered meals is less likely to worry about being able to remain at home and to have feelings of isolation and loneliness.”
“Maybe you don’t have the time to spend, but you have the money, for $2.50 per day ($50 per month, or $600 per year) feeds one senior citizen a nutritious meal,” Steele said.
Anyone interested in participating can call 937-456-4947.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.