Why we volunteer at Meals on Wheels

April 24, 2019
Michael Smith-Uffen and Katlyn Lecompte-Richardson. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after picking our meals up from the St. Patrick’s Home kitchen!

My fiancé, Mike, and I have been volunteers with Meals on Wheels since the spring of 2016. At the time, I was working at Meals on Wheels as the Projects Coordinator and found that I wanted to do more for the agency because I enjoyed connecting with clients so much. We started to deliver meals every few Saturdays which was quick to become a routine for our weekends. That summer, I left Meals on Wheels to pursue another opportunity within the government, but Mike and I have continued to volunteer once or twice a month. Delivering meals is something that both of us really enjoy. The clients are wonderful and we love chatting with them. We often take turns driving and delivering so that both of us get to visit clients. We’ve delivered the same Saturday route for about three years now and built up a strong connection to our regulars, although we always enjoy seeing new faces! I have returned to Meals on Wheels as the interim Projects Coordinator until the end of September, covering a maternity leave. It’s nice to be able to come to work and handle some of the logistics for clients behind the scenes. I enjoy being able to work at the office throughout the week and volunteer on the weekend because I can often put a face to a voice. I talk to clients constantly on the phone but delivering their meals is a completely different experience. Being able to do the latter with my best friend is the cherry on top!

Client Elizabeth Roy and Volunteer Michael Smith-Uffen

I asked Mike why he volunteers and he said, “the truth is that ultimately I wouldn’t have even known that Meals on Wheels existed in Ottawa without you introducing me to the program. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels because as a child, I saw first-hand the good that MOW does day in and day out. My grandfather Jack received both hot and cold meals from Meals on Wheels in his early nineties, and having prepared food delivered by a friendly volunteer enabled him to live out his final years in his own home. I cannot overstate how much he meant to me.

Being at home was particularly important for Jack’s quality of life. He had severe Alzheimer’s, and as a result had difficulty adapting to change. New places, new people, and even the general business of being outside were increasingly difficult for him to adapt to as he aged. As his health declined, the Alzheimer’s compounded his ability to receive good care. Routine trips to the hospital or a walk to the grocery store would often result in near traumatic experiences with fear and anxiety taking hold of him. Assisted living in an external setting was not an option. The stability of being in his own home was the grounding and relief that allowed him to live out his days in dignity and in the comfort home brought, and it would not have been possible for him to have done so without Meals on Wheels.”

Client Elizabeth Roy and Volunteer (and staff member) Katlyn Lecompte-Richardson

All of this makes delivering meals to clients like Mrs. Roy, a regular on our Saturday route, a very meaningful experience. When I asked Mrs. Roy about the Meals on Wheels services, she said “I always love the soups! I wouldn’t be able to go to the grocery store so I’m very grateful. I recommend the service to everyone! ” If you’re interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels, please contact Jill or Jena at 613-233-2424.