Twenty-eight civil servants set out on 14 routes Monday, from George Town to West Bay, to deliver 100 meals to the elderly, disabled and housebound.
Civil servants from a wide cross section of government departments volunteered their service after being asked by Meals on Wheels to support the organization’s Dress Down Day, which takes place Friday, Sept. 29.
The volunteers gave up their lunch hours to attend the Meals on Wheels kitchen in George Town to pick up meals, ready to deliver them to the recipients.
Meals on Wheels delivers food to 200 people across the island Monday through Friday. There are another 150 people on the waiting list, with the majority of those being in West Bay. Meals on Wheels has four kitchens in the community and is hoping to get a fifth one up and running before the end of the year.
Meals on Wheels’ new general manager Erin Bodden said the volunteer service offers more than just a meal to recipients – it also provides a safety check for seniors.
“It means they are not alone because at some point during the day someone is checking in on them and saying ‘How you are doing today?’ We ask volunteers to report back anything that is a bit off, needs addressing, or seeking additional attention,” Ms. Bodden said.
Ms. Bodden took over the Meals on Wheels position after former general manager Beulah McField retired.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was at the Meals on Wheels kitchen in George Town Monday morning to thank the civil servant volunteers for donating their time, and to pick up the meals that he had volunteered to deliver.
“One of our missions in the civil service is to be more sociably responsible and to show the public that we care,” said Mr. Manderson. “I can’t think of a better way of doing it than by coming out and supporting the Meals on Wheels Organization, who do a fantastic job in the community.”
Volunteering from the Immigration Department, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Samantha Bennett said it is a wonderful charity to give back to. “I really wanted to do it before, but there are limited spaces and that is a good thing. Straightaway I jumped on board and wanted to be a part of it today,” she said.
Karen Christian, volunteering from the Portfolio of the Civil Service, said she volunteered because she has seniors in her church that use the program, and she felt it was appropriate for her to do so.
Ms. Bodden said volunteering with Meals on Wheels not only gave civil servants a chance to give back to the community in a tangible way, but also allowed them to see the work that the charity is doing in the community.
“We receive a government grant each year, however, three-quarters of the funding is through donations and fundraising,” Ms. Bodden said.
She said Meals on Wheels currently has enough volunteers on the West Bay and George Town routes, but volunteers are needed for North Side, East End and Bodden Town.
She said many seniors may not like people to know it, but they need help, as they are at home by themselves a lot during the day.
“It’s hard to cook at a stove and manage a walker, and some are bedridden and it’s a struggle for a lot of them to afford meals, get care and have mobility,” Ms. Bodden added.