Meals on Wheels celebrates with new services
AS IT celebrates 50 years, Meals on Wheels Central Coast CEO Dennis Taylor said the service was just as relevant now as when it started out, if not more so.
"It's hugely relevant now with the fast pace of the world," Dennis said.
"We often have people who have retired to the Coast but their families are in Sydney or elsewhere and don't have that regular contact to be able to visit them and see how they are going."
He said that what set Meals on Wheels Central Coast (MoWCC) apart was that it delivered "more than just a meal", with 15,000 meals delivered monthly to the elderly and disabled by about 350 volunteers, who didn't just "drop and run" but stopped for a chat, lent a helping hand and carried out safety and wellness checks.
The importance of such contact was highlighted in July by the discovery of an elderly couple's bodies in a Palm Beach home in Sydney's northern suburbs after what was believed to be weeks.
"Our aim is to help people stay in their homes, in their communities, where they want to be, in safe and liveable conditions," Dennis said.
He said the service - whose clients generally range in age from their 70s to over 100 and receive deliveries 2-3 days a week - had a number of cases this year in which it had been alerted by volunteers to follow up with families, agencies and police due to clients not coping with life.
"Loneliness is one of the huge health issues for our community now," he said.
In recognition of this, MoWCC last month initiated a new Furry Friends program, which also delivers veterinary quality meals to clients' pets.
The program is in partnership with local business East Coast Dogs, but also provides meals for cats.
"You can only imagine that some of these people have lost a partner and their dog or cat is their only companion, their family," Dennis said.
"Furry Friends recognises the importance of pets for these people, a lot of whom are left alone for long periods of time, and takes the burden of buying and carrying pet food from them, while ensuring they are both well cared for."
This is just one of MoWCC's new initiatives, in what Dennis admits is a period of change. Registrations are also now being taken for a Combined Home Services program, in which MoWCC has partnered with 22 different services to offer a dependable one-stop shop to clients, covering aspects such as house and garden maintenance, podiatry, travel, and more.
"All the service providers are locally owned and people who have been around a long time, so our clients know they can trust them and won't be ripped off or scammed," Dennis said.
But at MoWCC's core, Dennis said, were its volunteers, who were celebrating the service's 50 years at a special lunch as this paper went to press, with a number being recognised for service of between 10 and 50 years.
"Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation," Dennis said.
"They make it possible to deliver a service which is good value as well as so valuable to our clients."
A gala fundraising dinner will also be held to mark MoWCC's anniversary on National Meals on Wheels Day on August 30.