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Not just a meal

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by Julie Meyer, Development Assistant

Delivery Story MOW photo 1Volunteer Meals on Wheels driver Doug Riddell delivers a hot meal to Robert (Bob) Wheeler at his home on a cold winter's day.We’re getting excited for the Meals on Wheels Walkathon on Saturday, April 29, and wanted to find out more about what Meals on Wheels means to our community. Right before Valentine’s Day, Lisa Middents, development manager at LifePath, and I caught up with volunteer Meals on Wheels driver Doug Riddell at the home-delivered meal kitchen parking lot in Erving as he was loading the back of his car with coolers. We wanted to know why he’s been at this route for the last twelve years. Doug, originally from Orange, lives in New Salem now and delivers meals every weekday to recipients in Millers Falls.

Doug tells us, “I like doing it. You get out meeting people. I got one lady from England I like to talk with. I got four people who’re in their 90s. There’s some things you only hear about when you meet these people. A retired electrician, he’s got some good stories about the early days around Greenfield. He’s interesting. (New) people are always coming on.”

Doug knows from experience what it would be like for people if they didn’t have Meals on Wheels.

“Some people would get by alright, but it makes it a lot easier for a lot of folks. I’m the only one to see a lot of the people. One lady, I think I’m the only one that might see her a week at a time. She counts on the meal.”

Doug makes a point to let people know about the service even when he’s not on his delivery route, going into the Shutesbury Town Hall recently to make sure they were telling homebound elders about it.

To Doug, “it’s not just a meal, it’s making sure they’re healthy, they’re doing good, and no major issues need to be looked at. If you come into a situation where… you don’t think something’s quite right, I usually call back to the office and let someone know they should do a follow-up. Sometimes it’s worked out where you’re right there to call if someone’s not feeling too good.”

Delivery Story MOW photo 2After delivering a hot meal, volunteer driver Doug stops for a moment to check in and ask how Bob is doing that day.We drive to the home of Robert (Bob) Wheeler to deliver a meal in Millers Falls and ask him what he thinks about Meals on Wheels. Doug has been going to Bob’s for the last several years.

Laughing, Bob says, “Well, it saves me tryin’ to cook something!”

We ask him what he thought about the menu over the years, and he laughs again, “Well, I eat most anything. Except Brussels sprouts. Well, I eat ‘em but I cover them with mustard so I don’t taste ‘em!”

We ask him if the service was not available how he’d be living his life differently. Bob tells us, “I’d either make a sandwich or pull something out of the freezer like chicken pot pie or something like that.” Bob gets help with grocery shopping but having a hot meal delivered every weekday means he can be more independent and has to rely less on his assistant.

Doug and Bob share a moment looking at the newspaper Bob has spread out on his dining room table. “We can talk about something, you know,” Bob says. We asked him how he’d be living his life differently if this service were not available. “I would certainly recommend Meals on Wheels. If I knew someone was not getting them and needed them, I certainly would tell them about it.”

You can help every elder who needs Meals on Wheels get them! Sign up for the Meals on Wheels Walkathon on Saturday, April 29, 8 to 11 a.m., at Greenfield Community College. Click here or contact Carol Foote: (413) 773-5555, ext. 2225 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To find out more about becoming a volunteer Meals on Wheels driver, click here.