12 January 2017
Fluvanna Meals on Wheels (MOW) volunteers have prepared, packed and delivered over 100,000 meals to their clients as of November.
According to Jackie Geer, MOW Board of Directors secretary, the operation’s achievement could never have happened without the selfless men and women who assist “out of the kindness of their hearts.”“We currently have 71 clients we are delivering to right now,” she said. “We deliver meals for seven days a week.” Volunteer drivers average about 200 miles a day over six separate routes that include recipients from Troy to Lake Monticello to Scottsville, serving freshly-prepared foods to 10 to 14 homes apiece.
“We’re not hitting Kents Store right now but we are working on it as a possibility. The problem is getting volunteers,” she said.
With no local, state, or federal government funding, Fluvanna MOW manages to deliver food by way of grants and community donations.
“Most clients eat for free thanks to the generosity of the people in the community who do this,” Geer said, although some clients pay on a sliding scale and some are paid for by Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA).
Geer said the organization is grateful to owners Mike Hartling and Dana Strang of the Dogwood Restaurant, who are the new supplier for Monday through Friday meals. MOW also appreciates the Thomas and Parrish families of E.W. Thomas Grocery from whom the organization orders weekend food supplies.
“Which I think is just win, win, win, to be able to do that; to provide jobs, support businesses in the county as we feed people in the county – take care of our own,” Geer said. “It sounds hokey to say it but we save lives.”
Geer, an active volunteer since her job retirement in 2012, said there are many shocking, sad, and beautiful experiences that would surprise Fluvanna residents.
“There are situations where clients have fallen. One volunteer happened to notice a client whose leg was very inflamed, and had slurred speech. [The volunteer] called his contact, and that gentleman was in the hospital that night. He had his leg amputated because it had gone gangrene,” she said. “The doctor said it was a good thing someone noticed. He could have died that night.”
The meal deliveries can give comfort to an older person’s child or spouse who can go to work with the knowledge that their loved one is going to be checked on. It can be relieving to know that, in some instances, drivers have been able to identify when something is wrong.
Geer told of another client who could no longer be helped into and out of a wheelchair, but whose recliner had become unserviceable. “Within 24 hours, [MOW volunteers] were delivering a brand new recliner so that client had a place to stay for the last eight months of their life,” she said.
“We allow the elderly person to stay in their house longer. We celebrate birthdays by giving birthday bags full of necessities and small gifts,” Geer said. Fluvanna MOW keeps emergency bags on hand should someone homebound have a sudden need for food and supplies as well.
Not only that, Geer said, but “We partner with the FSPCA and if any of our clients have dogs or cats, the SPCA supplies food for us and we help take care of their animals.”
Everything is done with a budget of just over $120,000 per year that Fluvanna’s many church groups, social organizations, businesses and individual donors help to comprise.
“Sheriff Eric Hess did a ride-along with one of our volunteers and he was so moved that, whenever schools are closed and we can’t deliver, every one of our clients is visited by a deputy to make sure they are okay, that they have enough food, and to see if they are in need of medicine,” Geer said.
In the county that claims to be the heart of Virginia, Fluvanna MOW demonstrates how people come together to do great things – like serve 100,000 meals – through love.
“Without those volunteers at every level, we absolutely could not do this,” Geer said.