Helpers warm hearts and stomachs Meals On Wheels delivers for seniors

October 07, 1992|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

They've been compared to Girl Scouts; two 60ish women knocking on Glen Burnie doors bearing goodies. But Ruth Herwig, 69, and Mary Kauffman, 62, aren't selling cookies; they're bringing meals to homebound seniors.

As a part of the Meals On Wheels program, Ms. Herwig and Ms. HTC Kauffman are just two of the 700 volunteers who deliver hot and cold meals in Anne Arundel County. "I feel it's a service to the community," Ms. Herwig said. "I'd rather be out helping someone than sitting at home."

Meals On Wheels, a private, non-profit food preparation and delivery service, has sponsored the delivery of meals five days a week for more than 30 years to seniors who can't cook or shop.

For the past three years, both Ms. Herwig and Ms. Kauffman have volunteered time and energy to deliver food every first and third Tuesday of the month in Glen Burnie. On Tuesdays, they visit 10 to 12 people.

Ms. Kauffman wanted to help because homebound seniors remind her of her mother-in-law. "I hope that there's something like this for her," she said.

At 11 a.m., the Herwig-Kauffman team meets at the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie to pick up the food (turkey ala king over rice, one day recently) to be delivered. Hours before their arrival, other volunteers have bagged and packed the food, sent to them from the program's Baltimore-based kitchen.

Margaret Smith, Pascal Center kitchen manager, has been with the program for 11 years and is impressed with all of the senior volunteers.

They are "really dedicated people" who benefit almost as much as those who get the food, she said. "It gets them a life back."

After Ms. Herwig and Ms. Kauffman pack the food into the car, Ms. Herwig drives to Clifton Spath's home for his routine food drop-off.

Mr. Spath, a diabetic who lives alone, awaits anxiously for "the girls" to arrive every Tuesday. "They're all so very nice," he said, "They come and say a few words and there's never any problem."

Mr. Spath said he decided to call for the Meals On Wheels service after having surgery on his foot. "Why go through all that [cooking] on my own when they give me just what I need?" he asked.

Meals On Wheels serves more than 200 clients in the county for a sliding scale fee. Volunteers work from sites in Glen Burnie, Severna Park and Annapolis.

"We have committed ourselves to serving the people," said Nancy Shores, county program coordinator for Meals On Wheels. "If a person needs the service, we'll find a way to give it to them."

Ms. Shores attributed the success of the program almost entirely to the volunteers. "These volunteers give their time, cars and energy," she said, "It's people going because they want to. They're a special part of the program."

She added that volunteers may be the only visitors some of the senior clients see on a daily basis.

Ms. Kauffman agreed. "I really think we are the only people they see. And I tell you one thing, you can really get attached to them."

On Oct. 18, Meals On Wheels will sponsor a fund-raiser walk-a-thon called "Miles For Meals" at four malls in Maryland to raise extra money for the service.

For more information on the Meals On Wheels program, call 263-5444.

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