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Celebrating our volunteers this National Meals on Wheels Day

Published on 01 September 2022
  • Community
  • Health and wellbeing

A friendly face, a chat about the weather, a nutritious meal and knowing someone will drop by to say hello. These are some of the ways volunteers change the lives of hundreds of Maroondah residents who receive Meals on Wheels each weekday.

Meals on Wheels is a Council-run Commonwealth Home Support service that provides nutritionally balanced meals along with ‘safe and well’ checks to those in the community who are experiencing difficulties preparing or cooking their own meals. These meals are prepared by our Karralyka chefs and delivered by local volunteers.

In recognition of these volunteers, National Meals on Wheels Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday of August each year to thank them for their time, energy and generosity in supporting members of the community.

Council was delighted to welcome State Manager of Meals on Wheels Victoria, Nelson Mathews, to Maroondah on Wednesday 31 August for National Meals on Wheels Day this year. Nelson toured the Karralyka kitchen where meals are prepared, met some of our volunteers and assisted with a meal delivery.  

Meals on Wheels supports a variety of residents, including residents who are elderly or living with a disability, and those who require meals on a short-term basis while recovering from an illness or injury.

Meal recipients can choose from four main meal options daily. Meals can be prepared to cater for special dietary requirements including allergies, intolerances and vegetarian diets, and texture requirements such as pre-cut or vitamised.

While the meals are delicious, there are other benefits for both meal recipients and volunteers. Most notable is the social connection and sense of community.

Longstanding volunteer Margaret Ryan signed up to “give back”. She enjoys ‘’getting to know the clients and watching out for them’’.

“If we keep seeing the same people on the delivery round, we do develop a friendship with people. It’s pretty special to be able to do these things,” she said.

Fellow volunteer Gayle Faulkner joined Meals on Wheels about 18 months ago and said volunteering has “changed her life”.

“I just love it - it’s very rewarding. I love speaking with residents and getting to know them by name and having them know me by name. I’ll ask about their pets, books or movies, if they’ve been on any outings, whether they’ve been out in the garden. One client is 90 years old and he wears a fitness tracker, so I ask him about his step count for the day!

“We need to be there for them. Like all of us, they just need a smile, a conversation and some positivity,” Gayle said.

Meal recipient Lorraine Jenkins said the volunteers are “doing a great job”.

“They are always very nice. We have a bit of a chat and they ask ‘how are you going today? Are you okay?’ The meals are lovely; they’ve always been good. Anything I’ve asked for, I’ve got.”

Lorraine, a former nurses aid, was also a volunteer, having worked with EACH for 26 years, where she prepared food for clients and spent time talking, singing and dancing with them. She encouraged members of the community to give volunteering a try.

“I think volunteering is very good, if you can do it. I always volunteered when I could, and I enjoyed it.”

Some volunteers even come full circle. Having volunteered for 14 years, Margaret has met some meal recipients who are also former Meals on Wheels volunteers!

“Quite often a new person on the round will say, ‘I used to do Meals on Wheels as a volunteer, and now you’re delivering to me!’ Then we joke about how what goes around, comes around.”

And if you’re thinking about becoming a volunteer?

“Give it a go. More often than not, what you get back is more than what you give,” Margaret said.

Further information

For more information about Meals on Wheels in Maroondah, or to find out how you can become a volunteer, call Council on 1300 88 22 33 or visit Council’s website. 

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