Tonawanda News — The organization does not received government funding, and survive off the fees it charges seniors for the service and fundraising events. Those who volunteer to drive and use their own vehicle also cover the expense of gasoline, though individuals age 55 and older can often get some form of government assistance to cover those costs.
But the time and financial obligations go a long way in keeping those who receive the service in their homes, while Welch said what keeps many of the volunteers coming back is the enrichment that comes along with knowing the clients.
“Most of the volunteers are retirees but we do have people who come during their lunch hour or who work the late shift,” Welch said. “They have to be available from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 or 1 p.m. They have good hearts, and my answer for why they do it has always been that only the best people come here.”
On Thursday, two kitchen volunteers were pulled out of their duties to cover the missing drivers, which set the whole operation back a bit, according to Welch.
Pamela Hill, the organization’s head cook who is one of four paid staff members at Meals On Wheels, said the volunteer shortage has had an effect on the operation.
“The most important thing is to get the meals out to the people,” she said. “And it helps to keep them in their homes, where it’s much more cost effective. If they go into nursing home all it does is get passed on to the taxpayers. At home they can stay self-sufficient. It’s hard when you have to give up your independence and this program helps them keep that. And it’s fun to meet them.”
Those interested in volunteering can call the North Tonawanda Meals on Wheels at 693-1663 or visit the location between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, 100 Ridge Road.