Meals on Wheels in Southport Grows
Most folks don’t need to watch The Wizard of Oz to realize that there really is no place quite like home. For senior citizens in particular, the ability to live independently in the comfort of home is a central component to their longevity and quality of life. But what happens when seniors who want to remain at home are no longer able to drive, leaving them without access to food?
As Brunswick County’s senior population continues to surge, many aging individuals find themselves homebound, lacking both transportation and the presence of any nearby family. The solution to this problem lies in the efforts of Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc.
Established in 2002, BSRI is designated as the lead agency providing programs and services specifically designed for adults 60 years of age and older. The nonprofit’s mission is to promote and enhance the well-being and comfort of all senior adults of Brunswick County. BSRI delivers services and programs encouraging and sustaining senior independence and continued community participation, the most recognizable of which is Meals on Wheels.
Each year BSRI‘s Meals on Wheels service provides over 100,000 meals to Brunswick County seniors, and just last month, BSRI’s Southport Center started its very own in-house nutrition program. The Southport kitchen is now a full service facility, preparing and packaging hot meals internally in an effort to get them to Brunswick seniors in the shortest time frame possible for improved appearance, taste, and nutritional value.
The backbone of the Meals on Wheels program is the volunteers who deliver food five days a week to seniors who have no means of preparing these meals for themselves. Brunswick County has become an increasingly popular coastal destination for retirees in the past decade, and that fact, coupled with the aging of baby boomers in the area, has left many homebound seniors living alone with little to no social interaction or nearby family.
Debra Marlowe, BSRI’s organizational development coordinator, says, “the seniors look forward to their daily meal delivery, which often includes extras such as a newspaper, magazine, groceries, Boost nutrition supplements, household goods, fruits, sweets, etc., but most importantly, the seniors enjoy the camaraderie they share with their volunteer drivers.” Oftentimes these volunteers are the only social contact the seniors have each day, and the relationship that forms as a result of the visits is just as beneficial as the meals themselves.
“We had a senior who fell in her home one weekend, she could not get up,” Marlowe says, “but she did not give up because she trusted her Meals on Wheels volunteer would be there to deliver her meal on Monday and would hear her call for help. This gave the senior something to hold onto, it is what kept her strong.”
Another volunteer, Audie Lowrimore, recalls the story of a terminally ill woman to whom she delivered meals.
“She once told me that she would like some oysters, so I went and got her some and took them to her on my next trip to her house. When I went back after a few days, she thanked me for the oysters. When she died a few months later, her daughter spoke at the memorial service about how much her Meals on Wheels Volunteer had meant to her.”
With over 3,900 meals delivered per month to seniors across the county, the work of BSRI volunteers makes it possible for the recipients to continue to age in place in the comfort of home. The individual needs of each homebound senior vary: some are disabled, some have health-related issues, and some simply have no one else to look out for them. The one constant throughout every case remains the physical and social nourishment the volunteers provide to this fundamental portion of Brunswick County’s population.
Jim Fish, BSRI’s president and CEO, touts the many benefits of volunteering for both the driver and the senior.
“In return for the dedication and generous volunteer hours,” Fish says, “our volunteers enjoy a sense of purpose as they interact with seniors in need and enjoy giving back to their communities.”
Volunteer at Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc.
Contact Sarah Powell, volunteer coordinator, at email@example.com or call (910) 754-2300, (EXT, 1028)