Meals on the move

Meals on Wheels drivers deliver good will as well as good food

by: SHELBY CASE/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Meals on Wheels deliverer Sabrina Brock visits for a few minutes with meal recipient Harry Hunter. Brock has been delivering meals for about five years and encourages others to volunteer.

Each Monday, Sabrina Brock greets the senior citizens on her Prineville route with a smile and a bit of conversation.
   Brock, who is among those delivering Meals On Wheels to homebound elderly, loves her volunteer work.
   Brock has been delivering hot, nutritious meals for about five years. Prineville Senior Center Administrator Emmy Lou Poarch said the center's funding for the meals comes through the Older Americans Act.
   "I just feel good doing it," said Brock. "I have a really nice group of people that I go to. To me, it just feels great that someone cares for them."
   Loading the meals into her 1998 Jeep, she checks the route list.
   "Sometimes I have to doublecheck if they want juice or whatever," Brock said.
   She pauses for a couple of minutes at each stop, talking with meal recipients. On her Monday stop, she discussed how Larry Gregson was feeling. He just suffered from a heart attack and is now on oxygen.
   "You have a good day now," she said.
   "Thank you dear," he replied.
   She also keeps up on what's new at each person's home, seeing, for example, that Doris Smith just had her house painted.
   "It usually doesn't take me too long," Brock said, checking the list of names and addresses and watching for traffic. "I can usually get this done within 40 minutes or less. But sometimes they'll throw a new one at me and it'll take me a while to find the address."
   Fellow recipient Pat Feany was visiting with his nurse and chatted with Brock about the quality of the meals.
   "Try to stay cool today," Brock said. "It's a little warmer out there today."
   Brock, a Les Schwab Tire Company records employee, said "all the delivery people are very good about working around each other's schedules." For example, if someone has a scheduling conflict because of his children's activities, another driver can fill in.
   "It's really easy to fill in," Brock said. "I've filled in a number of times for others and other drivers have filled in for me."
   When we closed a year ago, we were servicing 56 people," she said. They are now down to five routes.
   "We are down to five routes now, but we will probably be going back to 56 once the center is open again," she said. "We are now down to 38, so we lost that many. Some through death. Some of them have in-home keepers."
   Poarch has 24 drivers, but needs 30.
   "And I have right now only three subs," she said. "We like to keep at least eight."
   Qualifications to be a Meals on Wheels driver are pretty simple. Drivers should be congenial, enjoy working with the elderly and be reliable.
   Drivers visit for a few minutes with the senior citizens, who cannot drive or are disabled.
   "This is their only good, nutritional meal that they get that day," Poarch said.
   "We do supply drivers their noon meal if they want," Poarch said.
   If you would like to help out senior citizens in a volunteer position, consider assisting Meals on Wheels. Call Poarch at 447-6844 for more information.