Home ‘Give back to your community’: Meals on Wheels in need of volunteers

‘Give back to your community’: Meals on Wheels in need of volunteers

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

VPASWAYNESBORO — The meals are prepped and ready to go. Senior members of the community are waiting at home for the meals and the company they will bring.

But, Meals on Wheels cannot go anywhere without the support of volunteers.

“Our Meals on Wheels program provides healthy meals to home-bound seniors in the community,” said Janice Gentry, Valley Program for Aging Services’ Director of Senior Services for Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro.

VPAS serves meals to 150 seniors in the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and approximately 70 in the county. Seniors living in the county receive 20 frozen meals a month. Seniors in the cities receive fresh meals on Mondays and Wednesdays.

VPAS needs volunteers willing to deliver meals during the day on Mondays and Wednesdays. According to Gentry, it is challenging to find volunteers during the weekday and the program needs as many as it can get. Meals delivered on Mondays are to be eaten by seniors on Mondays and Tuesdays. And the Wednesday deliveries bring meals for Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but VPAS would like to expand the program.

“So we’ve got some growing to do,” Gentry said.

Meals on Wheels has 11 routes, and volunteers are encouraged to go out in pairs so that one can drive the vehicle, and the other volunteer deliver the food. Gentry said volunteers who can deliver on a scheduled basis are appreciated, but anyone available during the day is welcome to volunteer. Meals are picked up between 10:30 and 11 a.m., routes take about an hour to run and the volunteers are requested to return bags to VPAS in Waynesboro.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Gentry said the program delivered meals four days a week.

“We’ve really struggled with finding volunteers to come back on board,” she said.

However, the program provide more than just food for seniors.

“It’s also a source of interaction, socialization with the people who are getting the meals,” Gentry said.

And the program provides a subtle opportunity for the community to safety check its senior members, “and know that the community is looking out for them.”

“That’s really the part we’re trying to get re-introduced.”

Dean and Judy Obaugh of Waynesboro have volunteered for the program for a year and a half. Every other Monday they deliver meals to eight to 10 seniors in Waynesboro. Dean Obaugh volunteered for the program for 25 years in Richmond before the couple married and moved to Waynesboro.

“My husband has always been a volunteer his whole life,” Judy Obaugh said.

When she was looking for a way to volunteer in Waynesboro, Dean suggested Meals on Wheels.

“And I was on board with it,” she said. “I love helping these people and I also love meeting them and talking with them each week.”

Judy said she and her husband get to know the seniors like they are family. A few have moved away and the couple misses them.

“I think it’s really rewarding personally to do something like [volunteering for Meals on Wheels],” she said, especially to volunteer for senior members of the community, “and to give back to your community.”

If you would like to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, please contact VPAS Meals Coordinator Jennifer Grant at 540-942-1838 or email [email protected].

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.