Meals on Wheels Ambassadors can lead the way!

June 7, 2019

Did you know that word of mouth is one of the best ways to get others involved and interested in helping a not-for-profit?

Here at Meals on Wheels we have a dedicated team of 430 volunteers who deliver hot and frozen meals to seniors and adults with disabilities as well as serve on our Board of Directors and on committees.  They also help in the office, with special events, and with fundraising.

We know that these passionate individuals are the best ones poised to share information and inspire involvement at Meals on Wheels.  Letting others know about the service, our volunteer opportunities and our need for financial support with the wider community is a great way to be a champion for Meals on Wheels! We would like to welcome individuals who are passionate about our program to join a dedicated and energized group of individuals to be part of our team of Community Ambassadors.

You will have the opportunity to get out into the Ottawa community and engage people through various ways with support from the Meals on Wheels staff. You could also work behind the scenes helping to develop promotional material.

What we can accomplish with your help:

Serving vulnerable individuals in the Ottawa community

Our goal at Meals on Wheels is to make sure that every individual who is eligible for our service is able to access the nutritional support and caring volunteer contact that we provide.  Those who are most vulnerable may be the ones most likely to be unaware that this help is available.

Currently the number of meals we are delivering is in a small decline.  Unlike for profit businesses who have the marketing power to advertise their home delivered meals, a not-for profit like Meals on Wheels will have more limited resources for getting the word out.   This is where our Community Ambassadors can play such an important role.  They can help us share that one of the most important things that we provide, along with the affordability of our nutritional support, is the value added volunteer contact.   The daily visit and friendly smile accompanied by a safety check is peace of mind for clients and families. Referrals to other community support services are also what makes our service so much “more than just a meal!”.

We want to make sure that the whole community of Ottawa is aware of the service that we offer and of the additional impact that our volunteers and community connections make in people’s lives.

Ensuring a sufficient number of volunteers to support our program and expand our reach

Our program provides a crucial service for seniors and adults with disabilities in Ottawa.  We know that the benefits go beyond the food itself.  Our volunteers see the direct impact of their contribution each time a client opens the door. In addition to the nutritional support, volunteers are a fundamental resource to ensure the success of our program by reducing isolation and helping to connect clients to other services in the community.  They play a vital role and are the eyes and ears of Meals on Wheels.

Did you know that there are now more seniors living in Ottawa than there are children and youth? By the year 2031 we can expect our senior population to more than double. (A profile of Vulnerable Seniors in the Ottawa Region – United Way Ottawa, June 2017).  The need for volunteers to help community support organizations serve this clientele at home will only increase with time.


Did you know?

Meals on Wheels has 3 corporate delivery groups.

Learn more HERE

In 2018/2019 we welcomed 94 new volunteers.

Our team of 430 volunteers delivered 10,845 meals to 1,464 clients at home.


You may not realize that Meals on Wheels is a program that’s run independently by many different not-for-profits. In Ontario and in Canada, we are not part of a specific organisation that functions as a cohesive whole.  Though we work closely and collaborate with other Meal on Wheels programs that surround our catchment areas, we are each responsible for our own operations, fundraising and volunteer recruitment. One thing we have in common is our passion for supporting seniors and adults with disabilities to live healthy and independent lives and our reliance on volunteers to make that happen. In Ottawa, our program is the only stand-alone Meals on Wheels service.  With approximately 250 hot meals delivered daily, as well as a weekly delivery of 340 frozen meals, a large number of volunteers are required.

How you can help with our recruitment efforts

Our volunteers are very dedicated to the program and some volunteer for years and even decades! Others refer friends and family to our volunteer program based on the great experience they have had.

At Meals on Wheels, some of the challenges in recruitment that we are currently facing have to do with trends in volunteerism.  Many new volunteers are looking for short term projects and virtual opportunities rather than committing long term. Volunteer attrition is a fact of life, but the effects of it on organizations like Meals on Wheels are increasing as more and more people find that they are only able to take on short-term commitments.  Currently, our active volunteers are taking on more shifts as we grapple with these trends in volunteerism being experienced across communities.  In programs like ours which rely on ongoing weekday daytime availability and for some roles, vehicle availability, the challenges of current trends are compounded. As we adapt to these trends by creating more short term and virtual opportunities, we must also continue to provide our daily delivery of meals to clients.

We have many long serving volunteers who give numerous hours every week.  These “supervolunteers” can contribute many hundreds of hours annually.  Replacing these volunteers when they retire can often mean needing to recruit 3 or 4 new volunteers. This results in a need for constant recruiting by Meals on Wheels.

We recognize that we need more help to get out into the community to raise the profile of our program, volunteer opportunities and impact of our service on those who need it most.

We need to be innovative in our approach to recruiting individual volunteers as well as creating opportunities for more partnerships and engaging corporate and other groups to participate in our adopt- a- route program.   An enthusiastic team of community ambassadors can play such an important role in helping us to accomplish this.

Fundraising

Every year, Meals on Wheels needs to raise $70,000 to help run our program.  In addition to the support we receive from our funders, as well as donations through volunteer mileage claims and individual and group donations, our program, like many other not-for-profits is challenged to find new ways to meet our annual fundraising goals.

On top of the usual annual fundraising efforts, we also have a current need to replace our aging vehicle. The Meals on Wheels wagon is a vital resource needed for our program and in particular for the transportation of our depot routes to the west of our catchment area. Our 2007 vehicle has served us well, but it is time to replace it with a newer one which will keep us on the road and increase our capacity to serve our clients.

You may be interested in helping in one or all of the above areas of need at Meals on Wheels.

Some of the ways that Community Ambassadors can help support Meals on Wheels are:

  • Plan, set up, and attend public events where potential clients, volunteers, funders, and donors may be likely to attend.
  • Conduct outreach activities with groups who may be interested in learning more about our program or who have requested a presentation.
  • Attend community association meetings or other groups and help expand the profile and reach of Meals on Wheels in the community.
  • Distribute brochures and informational material through a variety of venues.
  • Conduct research on appropriate places to recruit a variety of types of volunteers (recent retirees, youth, families, new Canadians, corporate groups, etc.
  • Conduct research on innovative recruitment and marketing strategies that may benefit our program.
  • Work and collaborate as part of a team of outreach volunteers.
  • Work with Meals on Wheels staff to develop promotional materials as needed.
  • Write an article for the Meals on Wheels blog or a local publication.
  • Write content for and promote engagement on Meals on Wheels social media.
  • Share your creative ideas!

Contact jill@mealsonwheels-ottawa.org  or call 613-233-2424 to join our Community Ambassador Team!

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