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Senator Jo Comerford Visits LifePath’s Meals on Wheels Program

Senator Jo Comerford preparing home-delivered meals with Nutrition Program Assistant Karen Barber-SilvaSenator Jo Comerford preparing home-delivered meals with Nutrition Program Assistant Karen Barber-Silva

Senator is emboldened to fight even harder for elder security

Senator Jo Comerford visited the LifePath Meals on Wheels kitchen in Erving on Friday, June 28, to understand how LifePath delivers 535 meals each weekday to local homebound clients.

The kitchen is hectic in the morning, with Meals on Wheels staff hurriedly making the meals that will be delivered in time for lunch to a 30-town area in Franklin County and the North Quabbin. Senator Comerford met with Kitchen Manager Charlie Cornish, Nutrition Program Director Jane Severance, and LifePath’s Executive Director Barbara Bodzin, before being given a kerchief, apron, and gloves and jumping in to help prepare meals.

Mr. Cornish explained the kitchen staff and drivers “surprise him all the time with how wonderful and dependable they all are.”

Frank “Bill” Newton, 89, Meals on Wheels DriverFrank “Bill” Newton, 89, Meals on Wheels DriverFrank “Bill” Newton, 89, shuttles meals to drivers at the ready in Athol and then delivers a few meals himself. He stated he “has been retired for so long he needs a reason to get up in the morning, and this gives him a reason.”

LifePath’s Meals on Wheels drivers deliver 129,106 meals to homebound clients per year. While LifePath’s total cost per meal is $10.09, LifePath only suggests a donation of $3 per meal, and continues to deliver meals regardless of what a client can pay. All deliveries include a friendly wellness check and follow-up with the client’s emergency contact if there is an issue.

Pinnie Sears, who delivers meals in Montague, Sunderland, and Leverett, stated, “I’ve known most of the people I bring meals to all of my life. It’s really cool!” At one point she had 10 clients over the age of 90 on her route.

Kendall Browning, who shuttles meals to other drivers and then delivers meals himself for the West County area, enjoys “making clients’ days.”

Senator Comerford delivers meal to Dorothy “Dot” Shippee, 92, in South Deerfield Senator Comerford delivers meal to Dorothy “Dot” Shippee, 92, in South Deerfield After helping to prepare the meals, Senator Comerford delivered her first meal to Dorothy “Dot” Shippee, 92, in South Deerfield. Ms. Shippee, who lost her husband, a WWII marine, in 1985, told the senator about raising 9 children and spoke proudly about her 28 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren (including one on the way)!

Senator Comerford visits with Eleanor Smith, 88, while delivering her mealSenator Comerford visits with Eleanor Smith, 88, while delivering her mealThe second meal delivery Senator Comerford made was to Eleanor Smith, 88, who gave the senator a huge hug when she found out who she was. Ms. Smith had 10 siblings but explained she was the last one left and was so happy to have a room full of women again “as it reminded her of her sisters.” Her husband passed in 2006. About her Meals on Wheels driver, she said, “He’s so nice and I enjoy the company.”

Ms. Smith’s daughter, Lisa Woods, who lives with her mother but works during the day, stated, “LifePath has been so awesome! I don’t know what I would do without them. They’ve been a godsend for both of us. I know she’s getting everything she needs.”

While LifePath’s total cost per meal is $10.09, LifePath only suggests a donation of $3 by clients per meal, and continues to deliver meals regardless of what a client can pay.

At the end of Senator Comerford’s morning with LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program, she stated, “I’m grateful to have experienced the great work of LifePath and how the agency changes people’s lives. I am emboldened to fight even harder for elder security.”

Executive Director Bodzin expressed her thanks to Senator Comerford, stating, “We are thrilled you are here to witness the fabulous work of the Meals on Wheels kitchen volunteers and volunteer drivers.”

Bodzin added, “Drivers save lives. There is a significant portion of the population that has no one to depend on. Drivers fill that void.”

If you are 60 or over and would like to receive home delivered meals, or if you are interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels, please contact LifePath at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259.