Meals on Wheels’ volunteers help the community

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(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Meals on Wheels connects volunteers with diverse individuals and provides not only a helping hand but friendships as well. Volunteer Pat Mistak and Office Manager Susan Husar have experienced the connections you can make with those using the organization’s services. Mistak connected especially with one man she delivered meals to.

“We just clicked,” Mistak said. “He was a Korean War vet, and I got to know his whole story. He had a big family, and I got to know all of them. I was invited to birthday parties and everything. I did everything for him. I was heartbroken when he passed, I spent the most time with him. His family really appreciated what I did for him.”

Mistak decided to volunteer for Meals on Wheels over eight years ago. “I was retired at home thinking, ‘I have to do something,’” Mistak said. “I thought, ‘I’m a people person, I can do that one day a week.’ I saw a newspaper ad and started volunteering as a delivery driver.”

Husar coordinates the routes for volunteer delivery drivers. In 1987, Husar planned on helping out at Meals on Wheels temporarily but has stayed ever since. “I learned to love Meals on Wheels,” Husar said. “It’s a job you feel good about when you go home. When you go out to deliver, It’s a wonderful feeling. You’re helping people who can’t go grocery shopping, prepare meals for themselves or clean up afterwards.”

Volunteers often see the same faces when delivering meals.

“Some people you become close to,” Husar said. “They are so thankful to have the interactions of volunteers and greet us with a smiling face. It’s also a wellness check to see if any of the people need help, like if they’ve fallen.”

Volunteers receive the reward of satisfaction, knowing they are helping those in need, but also awards of appreciation from Meals on Wheels. Mistak recently received the Presidency Award during the organization’s annual Thank-You luncheon. This award is given to those who have volunteered 100 hours or more throughout the year.

“With the 100-hour award you get a presidential pin, a certificate and a letter from the president of the United States thanking you for your time,” Mistak said. “The Meals on Wheels’ staff always makes sure to thank us and tell how much we’re appreciated.”

Meals on Wheels relies on volunteers to assist in providing nutritious meals, companionships and a watchful eye on the health and safety of those who use the services.

“If you need help, Meals on Wheels will be there for you,” Mistak said. “We get paid in feeling good and knowing we’re helping people. If it wasn’t for volunteers, Meals on Wheels wouldn’t be here.”

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