Columbia, Maryland resident, Julia M. is a retired nurse and indoor gardener who will soon be celebrating her 80th birthday. She lives independently in her own apartment with her 16-year old chihuahua, Rocky, who keeps her entertained and on her toes. Julia struggles with health challenges such as arthritis and asthma and has been receiving home-delivered meals from Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM) for over 5 years now, giving her autonomy while also helping her eat a balanced diet.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julia worried her deliveries would stop and she would not have food to eat. However, she could rely on MOWCM and is thrilled to report that she has been receiving two frozen meal boxes every week without a single delay! Due to her age and health conditions, the coronavirus has kept Julia confined to her apartment building as she shelters in place. Because of the loneliness that she was experiencing, Julia was glad to hear about MOWCM’s new Client Wellness Call (CWC) program that connects clients with volunteers for weekly phone calls that serve as both check-ins and friendly conversation.

As of August 2020, over 1,800 clients are receiving calls from volunteers, reducing the physical, mental, and emotional health tolls that may be caused by social isolation.

Julia and her CWC volunteer, University of Maryland, College Park student Erin M. hit it off immediately and have been conversing for several months now. Julia has found great comfort and joy in their talks and looks forward to hearing from Erin each week. They have discovered they have so much in common as Erin is interested in a career in medicine and Julia tells stories of her days in the healthcare field, including exciting tales of flying a plane to see patients in a remote area. Julia has enjoyed hearing about the experiences of a young person in college and finding connection across generations. Erin wholeheartedly agrees commenting, “I’m so glad I have the opportunity to speak with Julia. I definitely hope my life will turn out to be as amazing as hers!”

This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of our MealTimes newsletter.