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  • Writer's pictureRandy Reid

Southern Tier Helping Hands

Community Volunteering, Good for the Community and the Soul

As Mother Theresa said: “Do small things with great love.” One way to demonstrate this might be to try being a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

About five years ago, a friend asked if I had an hour or so to help with a special lunch packing at Meals on Wheels. I was a bit hesitant, not knowing what I was getting into or what I had to do. After being assured it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, I agreed. I was instructed on the “job site” and have been going every week since then, as often as I can, whenever I am needed. Not only that, but I also enjoy it. It’s fun!

When you become a Meals on Wheels volunteer there are a variety of “jobs” to learn. You will be instructed as needed. You can pack bag lunches, wrap, or seal food, bag pet food, make sandwiches, among other tasks. You can deliver lunches after they are packed into coolers. The recipients receive well-balanced nutritious meals in a timely manner to keep the food safe. Food safety is the top priority.

Photo provided. Volunteers from Meals on Wheels of Chemung County, Inc. packing nutritious meals for clients.

COVID negatively affected the world, and our area is no exception. Some of the regular pre-COVID volunteers were not able to continue for a variety of reasons so others have stepped up – Volunteers, office staff, kitchen staff, even the mailman (and that’s no joke). There is a job to do everyday and it gets done. People are depending on us.

Able 2, AIM and ARC bring some of their clients in to do some special packings or some deliveries. Of course, COVID affected these friends’ visits but we are welcoming back more of late. They are, generally, very happy to be helping.

We laugh, we sing, we dance, we chat and, like most families, we have cried.

Our Executive Director of 25 years, Darlene Ike, lost her short but courageous battle with cancer shortly after she retired in the early fall of 2021. She was well-loved and respected by staff, volunteers, and the community. She left big shoes to fill.

The “Big Shoes” have been filled well by our new Director, Katie Boland, who was a good friend of Darlene’s and was able to spend some tutorial time with Darlene. This was helpful in the transition.

We also lost a beloved longtime volunteer, Ellie, after a brief illness.

Find some time in your schedule to do something for someone else with no exceptions. Volunteer – “Do a small thing with great love”. It is worthwhile and you do get much more than you give.

About this feature

Southern Tier Helping Hands is a feature that highlights the people and organizations doing good things in and around the region. If you'd like to share a story or know of a person, business or initiative that supports the community and should be recognized, email with the details.


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