Hungry people benefit from great volunteer

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

“We very much enjoy doing Meals on Wheels,” said Dana Stewart, as she was picking up 12 meals recently to be delivered to the homebound last week at First Presbyterian Church.

“Two years ago, when my youngest son entered school, I felt led to become involved in this program and it has been such a blessing,” she said.

She pointed to the large brown plastic container in which the meals are carried to their recipients by mid-morning. “We use the carriers to keep the meals piping hot.”

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Stewart had her three sons with her to help – Reed, 11, who is a sixth-grader; Kyle, 9, a fourth-grader and Jack, 6, a first-grader.

All were pitching in as preparations were made for take-off.

“The boys help me in the summer,” she said, “when they’re out of school. We pick up the meals here (First Presbyterian) and deliver 10-12 meals on a route that is entirely within the city. It takes about 45 minutes.

“I love the contacts with the people,” she said, “it has been absolutely fabulous.”

“In addition to the boys, I recruited a friend who worked with me for nine months, but most of the time I make the deliveries alone.”

The meal site at First Presbyterian is officially known as the Broad Street Nutrition Center and even though the program has been housed at First Presbyterian for nearly two decades, it enjoys broad support in the community.

Sue Long, who has served as program director since the beginning,

said that 183 meals are prepared a day, on average, and that 15 churches and civic organizations provide support. Meals are served year round at the church Monday through Friday.

Long said that funding is received through the Area Agency on Aging of the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission, with an office in Camden. Camillia A. Ratliff is the agency’s director.

The program, which also has an average of 55 elderly persons served in the Cornerstore Room of First Presbyterian each day, is also funded by churches and civic organizations

and by recipients of the meals who are asked to make a donation of 75 cents per meal. The other congregate site in Selma is the Martin Luther King Jr. Nutrition Center located in the G.W.C. Homes. According to Long, that center serves 15-20 meals per day on site.

Long said that the only requirement to receive a homebound meal is to be over 60 years of age. Many referrals come from doctors. Persons who receive the meals must be homebound, but that does not mean that never leave their homes. They are persons, Long said, who for whatever reason can’t cook or don’t eat properly

on their own.

Long has a number of volunteers from a number of churches, some of whom have been with the program since its beginnings. “Some of the volunteers are older than the people who receive the meals,” she said.

Stewart, a wife and a mother, has been active in the community for a number of years. Not only does she deliver homebound meals, but has served on the board of Little Friends School and has volunteered in many capacities at First Presbyterian. She worked in the church office for five years performing various administrative duties, and has worked with the youth, including serving as an adult volunteer on a Mexico mission trip.

For volunteer information at the Broad Street Nutrition site, call Sue Jones at (334) 875-6571.