Every April, we come together to celebrate and thank our Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM) volunteers during Volunteer Appreciation Month. Next week (April 18-24) is Volunteer Appreciation Week, a time of celebration and recognition of volunteers that began nationally in 1974. Volunteers are vital to the delivery of services in all areas of life, from animal welfare to the arts to delivering meals. In Maryland, nearly 70% of all nonprofits are run by volunteers, banking over 153,000,000 hours each year!
Without the time, talents, and dedication of volunteers, MOWCM would not exist. In fact, the organization was started by a group of volunteers who delivered 10 meals to older adults in Baltimore. Volunteers play a vital role in all MOWCM programs. Delivering meals, calling clients, and packing boxes just begins to describe the work and diversity of talents that volunteers give every day. The following quote from a 1974 MOWCM report says it best… There could be no “wheel” without a hub and the clients and volunteers make up the hub.” The following volunteer spotlights and client comment heart truly show the impact of volunteer work. To our volunteers, thank you for being with us through it all!
Janet K. and Henry W.: Delivering meals in Montgomery County for over 2 decades
Over 22 years ago, Janet K. retired and began looking for an activity to occupy her time in a meaningful way. After coming across MOWCM, she knew it would be a great fit, especially because she enjoyed driving and expanding her community reach. In 1998, she began as a delivery driver out of the Leisure World (a 55+ neighborhood in Silver Spring) site. Though she has always picked up the meals from the same place, her routes have changed as time went on, covering neighborhoods throughout Montgomery County. Janet fondly remembers the days when she would find her way to clients’ homes using a map instead of a GPS system! After about a year of volunteering, Janet decided to ask her long-time friend Henry W. if he would be interested to joining her. Now 21 years later, their volunteer team is still going strong, volunteering together every week. They have perfected their system in which Janet drives and Henry carries the meals.
Janet and Henry have loved getting to know the staff of MOWCM and their fellow volunteers. Most of all though, they have enjoyed meeting and interacting with their clients. At the core, this has been what kept them coming back after so long. Janet comments, “We get to know their stories and look forward to greeting them each week. It provides just as much socialization for me as it does for the clients.” Henry agrees saying, “It is a true honor to contribute to making life easier for folks. The clients are definitely what keeps me going.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Janet and Henry didn’t miss a beat, volunteering 43 hours together and covering 543 miles. The team followed every pandemic-related guideline to the T and with grace, committed to the goal of keeping clients safe and healthy.
Regina B.: Call Connections Call Star
Regina has been giving back and volunteering in the community her whole life. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, she had been an active volunteer at 6 different agencies. When the virus began to spread in the United States however, many of the organizations shut down or were no longer taking volunteers.
She began to look for a new opportunity that would provide assistance to vulnerable people in a remote way. When Regina learned about the Call Connections program (formerly known as Client Wellness Calls) at MOWCM, she knew it was a perfect fit. She decided to sign up to be a Call Star and dedicate her service in memory of her late mother-in-law, who greatly enjoyed receiving home-delivered meals.
Over the year, Regina has called several clients. She loves how the program fits perfectly into her schedule and allows her to give back safely in the time of a pandemic. It is so nice to talk to her clients, forming real connections and making a difference in their lives.
From our Clients: This heart represents words and phrases clients gave when asked to talk about their volunteers