Meals-On-Wheels delivers food and friendly conversation

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Thu., Feb. 14, 2013
(L-r) Tara Miller, Dorothy DeForge, Michele Holcombe, Janet Frechette and Linda Stevenson deliver flowers alongside the meals. Photo by Colin Rajala.
(L-r) Tara Miller, Dorothy DeForge, Michele Holcombe, Janet Frechette and Linda Stevenson deliver flowers alongside the meals. Photo by Colin Rajala.

“This is a small town, a small community and it is a perfect way to help out your neighbors,” said Meals-On-Wheels volunteer Michele Holcombe. “It really takes a very small amount of time out of the week to see somebody else who might not have food receive food and really enjoy it.”

Holcombe and people like her provide a valuable service to those who are ill or housebound and without anyone else to see to it that they eat properly. The Emergency Aid Association’s Meals-On-Wheels program in Suffield delivers a hot lunch and cold bag supper up to seven days a week. Last year alone, the group distributed more than 7,500 meals to about 20 homebound seniors a day, and that number will increase, as there are more than 25 seniors using the program currently.

“The volunteers truly drive our program,” said Janet Frechette, executive director of the Emergency Aid Association. “With only one full-time and three part-time workers, we would not be able to accomplish as much as we do without them; we would cease to exist. We are greater as a whole than as individual parts.”

Volunteer Dorothy DeForge set out to find a way to give back to the community more than 20 years ago and eventually decided to start with Meals-On-Wheels in 1993, based on the recommendation of a friend who happened to be the town’s social services director. She would not have needed to stick around for more than 20 years, but the camaraderie amongst volunteers, as well as the expressions and reactions she receives when bringing a person his or her meal, makes it all worthwhile.

“I am dedicated because we go to see people who we are the only one they see all day long,” DeForge said. “There is no communication; they need someone to talk to at least once a day. If they like to talk we let them talk and we will have a conversation with them and they appreciate it. If it wasn’t for this, some people would not be eating and would not be seeing any one.”

Holcombe moved to Suffield 10 years ago and thought the time volunteering would be a great way to become acquainted with her new home while meeting new people. She has continued to volunteer for Meals-On-Wheels because of the variety of people she has met as well as all of the stories and history those people have taught her about.

Frechette said that the group also offers friendly visitor and friendly shopper programs, but the Meals-On-Wheels program is the most widely-used. The program also gives out gifts with the food throughout the year, from flowers donated by the Garden Club to Valentine’s Day cards created by students.

For more information on how to volunteer, visit www.suffieldeaa.org or call 860-668-1986.


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