My heart broke a little bit earlier this week

At the same time I was heartened, knowing we play a critical role in connecting our clients with needed care.

A volunteer called saying one of their people was extremely short of breath and was having difficulty speaking. Their “person” is a young 95 year old, legally blind, lives alone, doctors infrequently and has no family. Along with a formal Power of Attorney for finances, we are their only connection to the “outside world”. Six days a week we bring not just a meal, but also a conversation with a smile in our voices to this individual.

I called the client to check in and see how they were doing; not so good. They could barely talk – needing to take a breath after every 1-3 words. They were confused – when they’re usually very alert.

Initially, they were not interested in having us call 911. I asked them if they wanted us to call their doctor (they have difficulty seeing the buttons to dial out). They said they didn’t really have one. I asked where they usually went for medical care, and if I could call there. They replied “they wouldn’t know me.”

Their breathing remained shallow and labored. I could hear the anxiety in their voice and change in timbre. I could see their confusion in making a relatively simple decision – part of their mind knowing they should get help, but also uncertain if they “really” needed medical care.

I gently asked what they wanted to do to get help with their breathing. They replied “Well, I guess I should go see a doctor.” I quietly told them I was concerned about their difficulty breathing and that I thought it would be a good idea for the EMTs to come and help them get medical attention. They agreed.

I ended the conversation saying I was going to call 911 and would then call them back. With a sigh and crackle in their voice, they said “Oh, I’ve been such a fool…”

“More than a meal” could almost be our tagline.

  • Our volunteers let us know when things aren’t “normal” with their people and we follow-up with those concerns.
  • Small, handmade cards, placemats and other crafts from area school-aged children bring a bit of joy to someone who might be feeling a bit “blue”.
  • Volunteers encounter situations where their quick response ends up saving lives.
  • A birthday card and individual piece of cake (or sugar free candy) is sometimes the only recognition a client receives – not because of cultural or religious preferences, but because they have no one left.
  • It’s a brief visit, but we break down the walls of social isolation.

As I finish writing this, I’m saddened as I imagine what it must be like to grow old and to have out-lived family and friends; to be visually impaired to where I can’t even see the buttons on the phone; and to become so confused, when I’m normally very alert, I can’t make decisions for myself. But there is a silver lining: I know that because of Meals on Wheels, because of the care and concern our volunteers have for “their people”, this person received medical attention they might not otherwise have received. Medical attention that sometimes saves a life.

by Beth Adams
Director, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels

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Join Us at Metzger’s German Restaurant (June 18)

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Metzger's June 2014 Feast - vertical

See you at the 2014 Senior Living Week Expo!

We are very excited for the 2014 Senior Living Week Expo on Friday, May 2nd at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest (1275 S. Huron, Ypsilanti) and we hope you are too! Don’t forget to stop by our table and say hello – we’d love to meet you and tell you all about Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels!

Below is a flyer of the workshops that will take place at the Expo, as well as a workshop registration form. If you have any questions about the Expo workshops or any of the workshops that will take place during Senior Living Week (May 2 – 10), please don’t hesitate to contact De Bora McIntosh at the Housing Bureau for Seniors at (734) 998-9338.

Expo Schedule

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Support Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels – Sponsor the Judy Fike Golf Outing

We need your help! In your own neighborhood a homebound older adult needs food. You can make a difference by sponsoring the 2014 Judy Fike Golf Outing to benefit Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels. We are asking for your support.

The outing will take place on Monday, July 14, 2014 at Reddeman Farms in Chelsea. Last year, we raised funds to pay for over 4,100 meals! This year, our goal is to have 128 golfers and raise $30,000.

How you can help:

  • We have several opportunities for you to sponsor this event. Our sponsorship levels reflect that every $6 pays for a meal. Click here for the Sponsorship Forms outlining the options and benefits of your contribution.
  • Our golfers would also be delighted with any donated items for our raffle, door prizes, and silent auction. We make sure that all our golfers leave with a door prize!

40thMealsOnWheels_logoWe’re turning 40 this year! Since 1974, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels has reduced hunger and food insecurity and promoted the dignity and independence of the homebound in our community. Six days a week we deliver nutritiously balanced meals to those who, because of their health, are unable to shop or cook for themselves. We are a community-supported program of the University of Michigan Health System and about half of our revenue comes from external sources. Your sponsorship is crucial to our continuing to feed the homebound.

Please join us to help provide much needed nutrition for our homebound clients.

On behalf of our staff, volunteers and the clients we serve, thank you.

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Coming Soon – The Judy Fike Annual Golf Outing to benefit Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels!

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2014 Golf - Save the Date - Blog

Winter Snow, Ice, and Bitter Cold

512px-0312_December_2003_snowstormI think most of us have, at one time or another, dealt with the headache of snow removal from our walkways and driveways (or at the very least, around our cars).  Snow removal is not for the faint of heart or those who have heart problems, especially when temperatures become frigid.  During the latest big snow storm and negative temperatures and wind chills, I saw several of our neighbors (including my spouse) working together to remove snow from sidewalks, and even a portion of the street!

While our block has mainly young couples and those in our 40s/50s, that’s not the case in many areas throughout the County.  There are many neighborhoods, where residents may not be physically able to shovel the snow off the sidewalks. Exposure to the cold puts additional strain on the heart and seniors and those with chronic medical conditions are at an increased risk.

Clearing_the_snow_-_Flickr_-_Al_Jazeera_EnglishSeniors may also be unable to afford to have a service do it for them. If you’re able, please consider offering your elderly or disabled neighbor help with snow removal, especially if you’ve noticed that it doesn’t get done within 24 hours of the end of a storm.  This is especially important since many cities and towns, including Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Saline, and Ypsilanti have snow removal ordinances which will penalize homeowners with fines.

Snow removal also helps the volunteers at Meals on Wheels deliver food to frail, homebound persons in our communities.  At Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, several customers often call to cancel meal delivery following a winter storm because they’re unable to remove the snow and are concerned for the safety of our volunteers.  Helping your neighbors by removing snow from their driveways and walkways can mean the difference in whether they eat that day.

Why is this so critical?  The inability to continue with typical maintenance, heavy chores, and yard work are often what lead an older homeowner to consider moving.  At the Housing Bureau for Seniors, we can recommend our HomeShare and our Housing & Caregiver Counseling programs for those looking to transition from one living situation to another.  But if affordable assistance can be brought in, why move?

Be neighborly! Check on your elderly and disabled neighbors, and if you can help in some small way, please do so.

New Name, Same Purpose

I have the best job ever. Not only do I get to work with a fantastic group of employees (as a manger I couldn’t ask for a better group!) but I also get to make a difference every day.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to do what our volunteers to every day: deliver meals. This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I love seeing the smiles on our clients’ faces, knowing that for many of them, I may be the only person they see all day. From receiving the many heartfelt thanks of appreciation to a big hug by one client, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face the rest of the day.

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels recently changed its name from Motor Meals of Ann Arbor. Why the change? We want to be more accessible to the homebound community who need our delicious and nutritiously balanced meals, to volunteers who have the interest and time to deliver and to donors who have the heart and means to give.

One of the problems we had with the Motor Meals name was the constant need to explain what we did. While a great conversation starter, it did little when we didn’t have direct communication with potential customers. In talking about what we did, we often said “it’s like Meals on Wheels”.

Meals on Wheels programs throughout the U.S. and the world are as diverse as the programs where they are located. From volunteer drivers to paid drivers – from catered meals to in-house kitchens – to serving only seniors to persons of all ages and everything in between there is no one “look” of a Meals on Wheels program. The one commonality is our commitment to meeting the nutritional needs of the homebound in each of our communities.

Our new graphic identity was developed by Raquel Weber, a junior designer at the marketing firm re:group, who donated their services to create our new identity. Thank you re:group!

We remain committed to meeting the nutritional needs of the homebound in the Ann Arbor area who are unable to shop and cook for themselves. We continue to rely on our 400+ volunteers to deliver our meals and briefly socialize with our clients. As one board member commented, changing our name doesn’t erase our history, it’s just another chapter.