Meals on Wheels keeps rolling in quest to help seniors

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Emma Jean Stewart of Locust Grove has helped to deliver meals to area seniors since 1995. She said volunteering for the county’s Meals on Wheels program has enabled her to assist in meeting the needs of others.

L. to r.: Erma Albert and Jeannette Cheatham are volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program in Henry County. The two deliver meals to homebound seniors each week. Photo by Seth Jackson

“I enjoy working with senior adults,” she said. “You get attached to them. I just enjoy being able to do something to help someone. It’s just my passion to help other people.”

Meals on Wheels in Henry County has helped to provide senior residents with hot meals every day for three decades. The county’s Senior Services Department serves nearly 5,000 hot meals per month to homebound seniors.

The program reportedly shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, much to the delight of people who need it, said Senior Services Volunteer Coordinator Tammy Smith. She said the need for such a program has grown considerably over the years.

“Our first hot meal was delivered back in 1987,” explained Smith. “At that time, we had four clients that received a meal. Now we are serving close to 240 meals a day.

Each Meals on Wheels client receives a hot meal, bread, butter, dessert and milk daily. Senior Services also delivers frozen meals to each senior on holidays as well.

Smith attributes one crucial element in the success of Meals on Wheels locally to the dedication of the people who put it together.

“Our program is strong,” she said. “We have wonderful staff, and we have the best volunteers that anyone could ever ask for. Some clients receive in-home services also, which help them with bathing and a little housework.

“The volunteers play a huge role in the meals getting delivered,” continued Smith. “If it weren’t for them, then we would struggle getting the clients their food on time. It’s not just the meal delivery that helps; our community comes together and donates items that can be used by our seniors. Some volunteers can’t deliver meals. They donate items instead, and this helps them out just as much. We are grateful for it all.

Smith said the feedback she has received from clients has always been positive.

“They love their hot meals, and most of all, they love the visits they get from the volunteers,” she said.

“The volunteers love what they do. They get to see so many clients with smiling faces. That just makes your heart melt.”

Smith noted that the assistance her department provides for older residents isn’t just limited to food.

“In the summer, we deliver fans that are donated to the seniors in need and also heaters in the winter months,” she said. “These generous donations are made possible by our loyal community partners.”

Senior Services organizes fundraisers throughout the year to support Meals on Wheels and other programs overseen by the department. Smith said local residents and businesses have shown consistent support for area seniors.

“The Henry County community has always gone the extra mile to help us when needed,” said Smith. “They donate items that some of our seniors use most often.”

For more information about obtaining assistance through Meals on Wheels, call Sheila Banks at 770-288-6974. For more on volunteer opportunities with the program, call 770-288-6988.