Publisher’s Note: Volunteer Missoula is partnering with Make It Missoula to help the community learn more about the great work of local nonprofits as well as spread the word about exciting volunteer opportunities available to Missoulians. Every month we will feature a blog about an “Organization of the Month” chosen from our list of website users.
Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. Each delivery brings a smile, a safety check, and a chance at an independent life.
Meals on Wheels is a part of Missoula Aging Services that helps to deliver food to seniors and to those who are disabled so that they can live an independent life. This service is one of the reasons that our community is able to thrive and it enables so many people to have a good and independent life. I was happy to be a part of this program, and I hope this blog will spread awareness of this service and all of the benefits that it provides. I tried to avoid using any names, and I changed a few of the names that I did use. I hope you all enjoy.
I arrived at the site for Meals on Wheels at 10 A.M. The sun was shining, and it was a perfect day for a drive. I was first informed about the Meals on Wheels program through Alicia while working to get the word out for Missoula Aging Services. It seemed like a great opportunity, and I was excited to do my part. The office is located at Providence Hospital and Health center off of Orange Street in a basement apartment. After wandering the basement for a while and taking a series of lefts, I was finally able to find the room that the drivers gather in before making deliveries. The drivers, that day, were a group of men who all have been making deliveries for a number of years. I felt a little out of my comfort zone, and so after introducing myself I grabbed a cup of a coffee and listened to their tales of fishing and hunting. I found it very entertaining, and before long I met the man that I would be riding with. His name is Bill, and he is a tall thin man with graying hair. We talked about his process and what it was like delivering food to those in need. He spoke of the satisfaction he feels when making his deliveries and how important it is to do something for others if you are able to do it. I found Bill to be impressive, and I was ready to start working.
Soon my contact Colleen arrived and handed out the routes that showed everyone where to make their deliveries. Since Bill has been working for Meals on Wheels for a number of years, he already had his route memorized so he let me look over the schedule. The route was well planned. The houses were all in the same vicinity. We all walked out of the office together, and everyone looked over the lunches that were available that day. It was grilled chicken with rice along with cake for dessert. The carts of food were moved to the main floor loading bay. I handed the bags off to the drivers, and everyone said warm goodbyes as they headed off to their deliveries. Bill and I looked over the food. Bill made a note of all the special orders that were going to be delivered and set them in order in the bag so that they would come up as needed. We were the last to depart.
Soon we were on the road! We were heading to East Missoula today to make our rounds. While we were driving, I started to talk with Bill. Bill had grown up in Montana and lived in the state for most of his life. After some time in the Marines, he started a family in Montana and now was enjoying his retirement by keeping busy helping others. We talked about the weather and how Missoula was doing, and finally we arrived at our first delivery. It was a small house where the owner had fallen ill and relied on this service to get the food they need. Bill popped the trunk, and as I collected the food, he double- checked to make sure there were no special orders for this delivery. We should have noted that the owner of the house had a dog because, as we opened the door, we received a very warm welcome as the little Scottish Terrier began to jump up and down at our arrival. The dog was excited because Bill traditionally brings treats to the little guy when he visits. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab the treat from the car and had to run back to grab one. Once the delivery was made, we jumped back into the car and hit the road.
Our route took us to about fifteen places around Missoula. Thinking about how there were about fifteen other drivers and that our route was one of the shorter ones made me realize just how much food this program delivers. They deliver over five hundred hot meals a week, which is a lot of food and a lot of happy people. Most of our deliveries were very quick, and a lot of people preferred us to leave the meals in a cooler outside. The work was rewarding and simple, and we spent most of the time talking about life. In a little over an hour we were making our last delivery to a small ranch home that was just outside of town. The Meals on Wheels Program works within the county and so this delivery was just within the county border by a mile. This delivery was a little different since Bill knew who we were delivering to, and we were welcomed inside to talk. He was a kindly old man who told of growing up in this area and listening to the coyotes that would howl outside of his window when he was young. He talked of how there were not that many coyotes in the area anymore, which he was grateful for since he was an owner of an outside cat. The cat was small and black and the most affectionate animal I have ever seen. It enjoyed attention and would often ask for a little more love.
After about fifteen minutes, Bill and I climbed back into the car and headed for the hospital. I thanked him for the ride-along, and he thanked me for the company. Back in my own car I felt a nice light and warm feeling. A feeling of a good day and of great things to come. This lasted the rest of the day, and I was able to sleep with a smile on my face.
My name is Will Schultz and I am a recent graduate of the University of Montana. I am originally from Butte and have been living in Missoula for the last few years. I love the sense of community that Missoula has created and am hoping to become more involved. I enjoy working on computers and I get a great sense of accomplishment that my skills are being used to help others!
If you like this article then volunteering may be for you. It is a great way to meet people and is more rewarding than my command of the English language can describe. Visit volunteermissoula.org to find ways to lend a hand near you.
Volunteer Missoula is a complete, streamlined volunteer management service for volunteers, nonprofits and businesses in Missoula County. We are web-based nonprofit organization operating under the fiscal sponsorship of United Way of Missoula County. Volunteer Missoula was created and is currently operated by Missoula community members dedicated to promoting volunteerism as a solution to meeting community needs. Volunteer Missoula is partnering with Make It Missoula to help the community learn more about the great work of local nonprofits as well as spread the word about exciting volunteer opportunities available to Missoulians.
Every month we will feature a blog about an “Organization of the Month” chosen from our list of website users. Our mission is to promote and expand volunteerism as a viable means to fill service gaps in Missoula by connecting volunteers, nonprofits, businesses and individuals in need of service through an interactive and comprehensive website. Volunteer Missoula’s website connects volunteers with Missoula-based nonprofit organizations. We make volunteering easy. For more information about our program or how to become an Organization of the Month, please visit VolunteerMissoula.org or email us at email@example.com. Step Up. Help Out.