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

Make a Difference…Volunteer!

126015675Volunteers are the backbone of Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels. Not only do Volunteers deliver meals to the homebound in our community, they also provide companionship and a warm, friendly smile. Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels Volunteers may be the only person a client sees all day. The meals you deliver are the primary source of nutritious food for most of our clients.

Summer is hard for the program because school is out and volunteers take vacations. Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels has also lost volunteers because of their advancing age and this will continue as our population ages.

Why Volunteer?
• Connect to your community. The simple act of offering your 1-2 hours of your time and compassion positively impacts the daily lives of those in need, as well as your own.
• Engaging in service to others is an invaluable experience.
• Be a force for social change and an inspiration to others.
• At risk and elderly community members will eat because of you.

40thMealsOnWheels_logoWe need YOU!
Volunteers of all ages to deliver meals to the homebound in the Ann Arbor area. Drivers must be at least 18 years or older and able to use their personal vehicles to deliver meals. Persons under 18 can volunteer if accompanied by an adult.

We offer flexible scheduling.
You can choose:
1) the day – Monday to Saturday, and
2) the frequency – weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

We deliver meals 6 days a week.
Mon – Fri: Meal pick-up at 11:30am.
Sat (Jan – Aug): Meal pick-up at 10:30am.
Sat (Sept – Dec): Meal pick-up at 9:30am.
Average delivery of meals takes 1 – 2 hours.

“I would have a hard time continuing to live in my house. Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels helps very much to make it possible. Thank you.” — Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels client

Interested? Contact us! Please feel free to call (734) 998-6686 or send an email to aamealsonwheels@umich.edu.

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.