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Macomb County

March 26, 2014

Volunteer drivers needed for Meals on Wheels

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

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Volunteer Meals on Wheels driver John Ivinson, 38, of Warren, picks up insulated bags containing hot turkey lunches for more than a dozen homebound individuals March 19.

WARREN — Once every two weeks, John Ivinson heads to the Village of Warren Glenn senior living community, on 12 Mile Road, west of Ryan, where he picks up lunch for more than a dozen homebound individuals.

The Macomb County Community Services Agency needs more people like him — people willing and able to give a little time to take prepared foods to their neighbors with limited mobility.

“I saw they were advertising. They needed drivers,” Ivinson, of Warren, said March 19 before heading out with 13 hot turkey lunches packed in black insulated bags. “I know about the program. My grandparents used to get it when I was a child. It was something they liked. I wanted to give back to the community.”

Kristin Ledford, communications specialist with the MCCSA, said the Meals on Wheels program feeds 1,500 people countywide every day.

“Not every volunteer delivers every day,” Ledford said, adding that volunteer drivers use their own vehicles and are eligible for mileage reimbursement. 

She said meals — made at 20 sites across Macomb County — are available Monday through Friday for homebound seniors and disabled residents who don’t have transportation.

“We have a menu that comes out every month, and we do have a dietician,” Ledford said. “It’s well-balanced. It’s not pizza or chicken nuggets or something.”

Volunteer drivers must fill out an application, pass a background check and attend a short orientation session. An adult who also completes those steps must accompany anyone under 18 wishing to volunteer to drive for a community service requirement.

Ledford said a survey of Meals on Wheels program participants revealed that 52 percent worry about having enough food; 74 percent believe Meals on Wheels is necessary for continued health; and 82 percent indicated the program allows them to live independently at home.

She said those who participate are asked to pay a $3 cost share, but only if they are able to do so.

In some cases, interaction with a Meals on Wheels driver might be the only contact a homebound person has during the course of the day. Other program participants request meals at times when family members or caregivers might not be available to assist them.

“I hope to do it the rest of my life,” Ivinson said before leaving with the day’s deliveries. “It’s a great program. It’s worthwhile. It helps, and they’re grateful. I’ve never had a bad experience in the six years I’ve done it.”

Drivers are currently needed throughout Macomb County, particularly in areas of Warren and Harrison Township. Volunteers are needed for regular schedules — at least two days each month — and for substitute routes. Regular delivery routes average about 90 minutes to complete around lunchtime.

For more information about the Meals on Wheels program or to volunteer to become a driver, call the MCCSA Office of Senior Services at (586) 469-5228 or fill out an application online at www.macombgov.org/seniorservice/mow.htm.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.