The history of Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM) goes back to 1960 when two Marylanders, Ernestine McCollum and Beatrice Strouse, saw aging and disabled community members in need of nutritional assistance. After learning about home-delivered meal programs in London during WWII, they decided to give the idea a try in Baltimore with a group of dedicated volunteers. Over 60 years later, we have stayed true to that mission: coming together to feed homebound people in need. Over the decades we have increased our scope, geographic area, and services, never forgetting our mission along the way.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges never before faced and with your help, we rose to that challenge, safely packaging, preparing, and delivering over 3,000,000 frozen meals since March 2020. Over the past few months, we have been closely monitoring positivity rates, infections, and vaccinations throughout the state. Maintaining safety precautions (social distancing, masks, cleaning procedures), we are ready to transition back to daily deliveries of hot and cold meals, unboxing the nutrition and isolation-reduction services we are best suited to provide.
This transition is a massive undertaking, and without your help it will not be possible. We are actively in need of delivery volunteers, especially in areas such as Howard County, Essex, Dundalk, Westminster, and Baltimore City. This volunteer opportunity is more flexible than ever before, allowing volunteers to maintain a consistent routine or pick up routes as their time allows (starting in July). To learn more about volunteer opportunities please visit: Volunteer | Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (mealsonwheelsmd.org).
No one can describe the benefits of volunteering with MOWCM better than our current volunteers! Check out their stories below:
Kathy H., Delivery Driver in Montgomery County
After 37 years in the workforce, Kathy retired a few years ago. After fulfilling a life-long dream of traveling the world in 2019, Kathy began to think about what she wanted to do next. One day while on her trip in Maine, she began to think to herself, “I need to do something with a greater purpose. How can I positively contribute through volunteering?”
When she returned to her Leisure World community (a 55+ neighborhood in Silver Spring), Kathy saw an advertisement looking for MOWCM volunteers in a biweekly newsletter. Kathy had the answer she was looking for. She lived in Leisure World herself and her father had been recipient of the home-delivered meal program. Volunteering would be the perfect way to give back to a community she not only cared about but was a part of.
Starting right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Kathy has seen the direct impact of the virus on homebound clients. She witnesses first-hand how challenging it is for those who are completely stuck at home and unable to see anyone in person. Kathy’s volunteer work with MOWCM has inspired her to learn more about food insecurity and how deep this issue runs, especially among older populations.
She has fallen in love with the work and the people, seeing the benefits to both client and volunteer. Kathy says of the experience, “I just love the clients. Even though it’s not much, I really feel like I’m doing something so special when I hear the gratitude in their voices.” She cares about her clients deeply, making sure to go the extra mile by noting any and all changes to clients’ conditions or alerting staff of safety hazards she sees. She truly cares about her clients and enjoys the process of getting to know each and every one. In return, they look forward to her deliveries week after week.
Pierce R., Delivery Driver in Dundalk
In 2019, Pierce completed a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania. He has since moved to Maryland and has been busy working on a post-doc at the US Naval Academy. When the pandemic started in March 2020, Pierce asked himself, “What can I do to help? What challenges are people facing right now?” He began looking into volunteer opportunities and felt that MOWCM fit with his interests and the need in the community- it would also give him a chance to learn more about his new home!
Currently, Pierce is volunteering as a delivery driver in the Dundalk area of Baltimore. While each client is vastly different, overall, he sees a common thread of loneliness and isolation. In the past year, Pierce has certainly related to that sense of isolation during the pandemic and hopes that his serve alleviates that in some way for his clients.
Theresa and Richard, Delivery Drivers in Harford County
Theresa and Richard began volunteering with MOWCM as delivery drivers approximately 4 years ago. Theresa was familiar with MOWCM from her days working for the Harvey M. Meyerhoff Fund and even recommended us as grant recipients. They thought volunteering would be a good fit for them, providing an activity that they could do together while giving back to local community members.
Over the past several years, Theresa and Richard have greatly enjoyed delivering meals in the Harford County area, and found the overall experience to be a positive one. They have seen how appreciative their clients are, both for the meals and social interaction. Theresa describes how they have been able to develop a rapport with their clients and form true and lasting bonds. Richard agrees saying, “We are sometimes the only outside connection people have.” Theresa and Richard both agree that at the same time they get a lot out of the relationships as well.
Theresa and Richard are so committed to their clients and see their role as so much more than just delivering. They have gotten to hear their clients’ stories and see the impact of all the little things. From picking up the mail to getting the trash cans, seemingly small acts make such a huge impact of the lived reality of clients.