How Rewarding Is Volunteer Charity Work?
It seems like all anyone wants to talk about these days around Frederick County is politics. As we are in an election year, sometimes I am guilty of that as well, but not today.
Today, I want to talk about something else, something that is very important to me and near and dear to my heart. And that is Frederick County’s Meals on Wheels program.
For over a year now I have been involved personally with Meals on Wheels. I began delivering meals as a part-time fill-in, and now I make time to deliver meals on a regular basis part-time. I also was asked and agreed to serve on the board of Friends of Meals on Wheels. I just love it.
When I first started this, I assumed it would be like many local charitable endeavors I’ve become involved in, where I pitch in and help out and then move on to the next cause. But there was something about Meals on Wheels that grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I get as much out of making these deliveries, I think, as do the people receiving the food. And with every delivery I learn something new about those of our citizens who are down on their luck or just having some issues.
I was amazed early on at how many people I was delivering to that I already knew. Some people who had been very successful previously in their lives and, as they aged, have fallen on hard times and become home bound. It was very sad for me at first, but then I realized that my bringing them a meal and spending a few minutes trying to brighten their day meant a lot to them. And it certainly makes my day.
For those who don’t know, Meals on Wheels is a program administered by Frederick County, and which receives money from the state and federal governments and prepares the food for the volunteers to deliver. But what I learned early on is that the government funding is not sufficient to take care of all the people who need the service. Too many of our citizens, particularly our seniors, are hungry and need our help.
I decided that it wasn’t enough for me simply to drive the car, drop off the food and talk to the recipients. It was clear that we needed to raise more money, and it had to come from other sources than the government. It was time to mount a serious fundraising effort in the private sector.
With help from many dedicated and capable volunteers, we started and organized a persistent fundraising campaign. Not one dollar of government money was spent on the fundraising. It was an all volunteer effort. And in over just a year we have raised over $50,000, every dollar of which has gone to supplement the program and provide meals for those who need them most, home bound adults and seniors.
Currently, it costs Frederick County's Meals on Wheels program $2,400 a year to provide meals to one individual. That’s just over $250 a month, or just over $62 a week, or about $10 a day. If you would eliminate going out to lunch once a week and donate that money to Friends of Meals on Wheels, you will provide a meal for an individual for a day!
Please join us – become a member of our organization by making a $10 donation to help feed those in need in our community. Make your check payable to Friends of Meals on Wheels of Frederick County and send it to 1440 Taney Ave., Frederick, MD 21702. We are also looking for volunteers to help us as we raise funds to support our mission. Please contact Gail Wingate for more information at 240-446-6402 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit www.fomow.org.
I am as proud of this accomplishment as anything that I have done in this community. The Board of County Commissioners launched a successful effort to pass a real and meaningful tax credit for our senior citizens. Almost 300 senior taxpayers have taken advantage of this credit, and the commissioners recently voted to appropriate even more funds to help even more seniors. I am very proud of that, as well.
The commissioners allocated funding for a study/survey for the Needs Assessment of the Aging Population in Frederick County. The vision of this effort is to ensure that Frederick County is a senior friendly community now and for the future. In addition to serving the needs of today's older residents, the study took into account today's boomers, who will have different needs as they expect to work longer and intend to stay in their homes as they age. Movement away from institutional care to "aging in place" is more cost effective but still requires the availability of critical services and support. Additional funding has been recommended in the FY15 Operating Budget to provide access to services that may be unaffordable but would enhance a senior's ability to age in place in the community with appropriate services and support
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear a complaint from a senior citizen that he or she is being run out of Maryland because of high taxes and other costs of living. I firmly believe, and it is one of my most important issues, that our seniors here in Frederick County should be able to comfortably retire right here at home and live out their lives in dignity.
The senior tax credit and Meals on Wheels are just part of the solution, and I am very pleased that we have been successful in helping many of our seniors who are in need.
There are more out there who need our help, and none of us should be happy until we have reached each and every one of them and made a difference in their lives. I promise to continue my volunteer efforts to solve these problems.