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Meals on Wheels feeds the soul

Put quite simply, the Meals on Wheels program is “a real life saver.”

At least that is what one Boulder City woman told me Friday afternoon as I joined the March For Meals campaign and helped deliver hot lunches for the day and frozen meals for the weekend.

I, along with Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt, accompanied Alan Bowman on his weekly route.

Bowman has been delivering meals for about eight years, ever since he retired from his career as a school principal. As with all of the delivery drivers in Boulder City, Bowman is a volunteer. He does not get paid for his time, nor the gas he uses or the wear and tear on his vehicle.

And that’s OK with him and the others. They know the value of the meals and service they are providing.

It does make a difference, he said.

“I came up on a lady having a heart attack.”

The delivery program provides a nutritious meal — the same one served each day at the senior center — to those who are homebound or disabled and cannot make it to the facility.

According to Bowman, if there are dietary restrictions, they are noted on his daily delivery sheet. That ensures that something such as bringing the monthly birthday treat to someone who is diabetic doesn’t happen.

In addition to providing lunch, Meals on Wheels aims to provide wellness checks on program participants.

That’s exactly what we were doing on our first stop. There we met Renee. She wasn’t at home the day before and we were asked to make sure she was OK since the program’s coordinator, Leslie Freebairn, hadn’t received a call about not delivering a meal.

Sure enough, she was there with a smile on her face and surprise at the addition of two extra visitors.

“I wouldn’t eat if it weren’t for Meals on Wheels,” she told us.

After a short visit, we were on our way.

There were nine stops to make that day.

Each stop included a short visit. And all were happy to have the company.

Fred, who piloted a P51 Mustang during World War II, was especially grateful to have someone to share his tales of heroics with and shower some affection on his dog, who we jokingly threatened to take with us.

One woman even shared her recent fruit basket delivery with Bowman, making sure he took good care of his precious gift.

“Some of the drivers have close and personal relationships with them,” Freebairn said about the people each driver visits.

It’s clear the recipients depend on the meal delivery and friendships they develop with the drivers.

One woman was getting worried because we were a few minutes later than usual — blame it on Leavitt and I visiting too much with everyone — and was so relieved when we walked in the door.

Another was happy to inform Bowman that she decided to keep the abused and neglected dog she had been fostering because he had told her she would benefit from the companionship.

Currently, there are four delivery routes in Boulder City, and most volunteers serve one day a week, just like Bowman. However, he said there are times when he takes other driver’s routes.

The volunteers ebb and flow with the seasons. Some are snowbirds and others leave when the summer temperatures get too hot, he said.

Leavitt said she was glad to see the program working from the other side. As part of her duties as a council member, she serves on the senior center’s board of directors and is well acquainted with the mission of Meals on Wheels.

Anyone who is 60 or older and is homebound or disabled and cannot come to the center for lunch can have a meal delivered. A referral is needed, and it can come from a doctor, caregiver, therapist, family member or friend. Then someone from the program visits the home to evaluate the need.

As with the program at the center, there is a suggested donation of $2 per meal.

That’s a small price to pay for what they get in return. A good lunch and a better friend.

Additional information about Meals on Wheels is available by calling the center at 702-293-3320.

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