Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Feb. 28, 2000

Meals on Wheels provides more than food

By Andrea Vargo

People get lonely living by themselves, and volunteers from Meals on Wheels in Howard Lake provide contact with the outside world, as a hot lunch, said Tana Forner.

Forner is the dietary manager for the Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center and is responsible for the meal program menu.

Forner plans and prepares the meals, and the menu is posted in the paper. Some of the meals also cater to special diets, she noted.

She has planned meals and coordinated the program since 1992, but it has been going on longer than that, she said.

Recently, volunteer Deb Crowley from Howard Lake delivered the meals, and said one of the gentlemen asked if she could visit for a few minutes.

"I sat down for about 10 minutes, and that was all he really needed, just to talk to someone for a short time," said Crowley.

Socialization is important, but another reason to provide meals for people who live alone is that some of these people might not eat at all, otherwise, Forner said.

It is also a good way to check on the safety and well-being of the people who subscribe to the service, she said.

Forner said she has an emergency number for each client, and if a person doesn't answer the door, the emergency contact is made.

Most situations prove to be false alarms, but volunteers have discovered people who have fallen or are sick, she said.

When it is time to deliver the meals, volunteers pick up a cooler with about 10 meals in it and deliver them to designated homes.

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour, Forner said.

Some volunteers give up their lunch hour to do this a couple times a year. Some people do it more often, some do it less., Crowley said.

She delivers meals on the first Thursday of the first three months of the year, because it works for her, she said.

Five churches provide volunteers for the program; the Church of St. Mary in Waverly, Howard Lake Christian Church, St. James Lutheran Church, St. John's Lutheran Church, and First Presbyterian Church of Howard Lake, Monday through Friday.

There is no delivery on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays, said Forner.

The program serves many different needs. Some families want meals delivered to older relatives, while doctors and social workers sign up others, she explained.

For $3 per lunch, a balanced meal is delivered on a daily basis.

Some people have meals delivered every other day. It all depends on what people want, she said.

Volunteers usually work in pairs, and some bring their children, said Fritz Dangers of Howard Lake, who has been a recipient of Meals on Wheels.

He said it was a welcome time of the day for him. He also liked the children that came along, and he kept a bowl of candy bars for them as a treat, he said.

Donna Adickes from the Good Samaritan Center said that all volunteers at this time come from the churches.

"But even if you don't belong to one of the churches, all you have to do is call Dolores Glessing, and she will find a spot for you," said Adickes.

There is a real need for a program like this, but unfortunately, more volunteers are needed to keep it going properly, she said.

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