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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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.

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.

2014 Golf Brochure-pg1

A Special Thanks to our Volunteers, Sponsors, and Donors

Every year on Thanksgiving, many people celebrate with a bounty of food. We take a moment to remember the things we are grateful for: our families, our home, our health, and anything else that fulfills our lives. In some cases, it gives us an opportunity to appreciate the things that we may normally take for granted during our busy, daily lives. But for Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels clients, the nutritious meals and visits they receive from us are appreciated every day.

Without Ann Arbor MOW and the people who support our program, many of our clients would not eat. Many would not have somebody to check in on them during the hot summers and the cold winters, and give them a friendly smile to let them know that someone cares. We at Ann Arbor MOW are grateful that we can provide this much needed service to our clients, and we are especially thankful to the staff, volunteers, and donors who make it happen.

Your generosity is more than a nice gesture, it is a life-saving act. Nothing illustrates that more than these words of gratitude from the very people you have touched:
− I don’t know what I’d do without you all. Such a very fine and life-saving program. I thank you all with a very full heart.
− I wouldn’t eat if it wasn’t for Meals on Wheels…may the lord bless all of you.
− The volunteers are excellent—caring, friendly, and very much appreciated by me.
− You’re there to help when I can’t help myself.
− You’re all angels at Meals on Wheels. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
− The meals are such a help for me and there is no telling you how much I appreciate this service. Thank you!
− Everything about it and the blessing of it and the friendly people [are what is most helpful]…God bless you all!

These are just a handful of things our clients say about our service. For all who are a part of the Meals on Wheels family, we thank you.

If you have not yet become involved with Ann Arbor MOW, consider joining our program. Whether through a modest monetary donation or a contribution of your time, your participation can change—and save—the lives of many.

One of the best ways to celebrate our blessings is to provide for someone else in need. It is a celebration that can happen throughout the year, one that is deeply appreciated by hundreds of people. Visit our website for information on how you can donate or volunteer at Ann Arbor MOW.

Let’s Celebrate Grandparents

This month we celebrate National Grandparents Day. This is a time to honor the older adults who have helped to shape our world. They are the memory keepers of our history. Many protected our country, labored for our economy, and contributed to technology and innovation. They also built our families, provided for our education and futures, and passed on our family traditions, recipes, photos and memories. They are a treasure of information and knowledge, and thus a generation worth treasuring.

This year, we celebrate grandparents as a nation on September 9th. But Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels provides an opportunity for you to celebrate them throughout the year with a population who is in desperate need of attention and care.

Many older adults are homebound due to illness, disabilities, or other age-related limitations. They may have children living hours away. Some may not have children or family at all. Yet they, too, have lived a life worth celebrating and remembering.

For many, the Ann Arbor MOW volunteers are like family. Not only do the volunteers deliver nutritious meals, but they provide the much needed human contact that our clients need for good quality of life. For many, the volunteers are the only people they see all day. During these brief visits, volunteers and clients can share a smile, a laugh, or a memory. Many clients proudly share pictures of their grandchildren who live far away, or tell stories about when their children were young. Volunteers who are parents often bring their children on deliveries. Many clients are delighted by visits from young children, which can truly brighten their day.

Volunteers also serve as the eyes and ears for family members who are unable to regularly check on their parents and grandparents. They make sure that their clients are feeling well. They look for signs of distress, such as poor hygiene, inability to keep up the home, or the client is unable to answer the door. If a volunteer has concerns, they immediately contact the home office where staff can take action, such as calling emergency services and/or contacting family.

As we take a moment on Grandparents Day to remember our loved ones and celebrate their contributions to our lives, also remember those older adults who may not have family available for celebration. Consider becoming a member of our volunteer team. Whether you make yourself available as an occasional substitute driver, or you take on a regular delivery schedule, any amount of time you donate can make a difference in someone’s life.

Delivery routes take 1-2 hours to complete. In that time, volunteers reach about 10-13 people. It doesn’t take long before volunteers get to know our clients and become a treasured part of their day. Please join us to celebrate and care for our older generation all year long.

It’s July in Ann Arbor, Michigan…Now What?

July in Ann Arbor brings celebrations, hot weather, art fairs and the requisite storms. You’ve managed to get in some quality R&R with your family and friends. You’ve had a few weeks to get used to the slower pace of a Michigan summer, but now you are ready to get out of your routine.

Are you in the mood to try something new? Meet new people? Give back to your community? Make a difference? If your response to any of these questions is yes, give us a call!

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers. We’ve added over 100 new clients to the program this past year, and were looking to add another route to meet the demand. But, we need more volunteers to make that happen!

You can choose the day and frequency for meal delivery that works best with your schedule. Got kids? Bring them with you on the delivery route! For the majority of our clients, the volunteer delivering their meals is their only contact with another person all day. Imagine their surprise and joy at having several persons arrive on their doorstep with food! One client recently told us Meals on Wheels is the best thing that’s happened to him.

Qualifications include:
• Volunteers under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult driver;
• Have access to a vehicle;
• Agree to a criminal background check;
• Sign a confidentiality agreement/statement; and
• Be available to deliver six times a year.

Interested? Click here for the Volunteer Application.