Home-delivered meal service for senior citizens

By Dc. Gary DiLallo
Contributing writer and photographer

Mary Strojny, formerly the Youth Ministry director at the Church of the Holy Family in Endwell, has been named the new director of Meals on Wheels of Western Broome County. Mary has served as a volunteer for the organization for the past three years, giving her the needed background and knowledge for the position.

Val Lefferts and Ron Dillingham packing meals for seniors.

She said she is “excited to work with the volunteers and staff who have been very welcoming and accepting.” Her goal is to continue to provide nutritious meals that will keep people in their homes.

Leaving the director’s post after five years is Jackie Pangilinan, who will be pursuing a degree in mental-health counseling at St. Bonaventure University. Jackie said “moving on is difficult” because she has been with them for 10 years, starting as the volunteer coordinator. “I’ll miss all the volunteers and the incredible meals the staff of cooks and kitchen volunteers prepare and serve.”

Located in the empty school at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Endicott, Meals on Wheels draws staff and volunteers from all parts of the community. The program provides home-delivered meals to eligible seniors aged 60 and up who are unable to regularly prepare healthy meals for themselves.

The on-site kitchen staff prepares 140-170 meals per day, Monday through Friday. It is closed weekends and holidays. The food comes from a variety of places, including US Foods, a food distributor servicing the healthcare industry, and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, which often provides more affordable items that keep Meals on Wheels’ food costs down and the meals affordable for those who need them.

The program currently has 220 volunteers who have undergone a thorough criminal background check and training. In addition to deliveries, the volunteers provide a daily check-in to ensure healthy independence and peace of mind.

Bill Sullivan and Ron Dillingham making lunches.

Several of the volunteers stated that joining the program has brought them a sense of fulfillment and allows them to be part of a close-knit, caring group of people.  They check in on those being served and the volunteers receive great satisfaction knowing they have helped someone in need.

Joann Barton, who began volunteering in 2003, said, “There is a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment in participating in this program.” Her daughter, Beth, and husband, Jack, are also volunteers.

Jack said he usually delivers six to seven meals every Tuesday, and he gets a good feeling knowing that the people are getting not only a decent meal, but someone to talk with. He also enjoys his Tuesday group of close-knit people.

The biggest fundraiser for Meals on Wheels is the recently held “Michael French Memorial 5K.” It not only raises funds for the organization but also honors the life of a past volunteer.

Anyone interested in volunteering may call 607-754-7856. Monetary donations may be sent to Meals on Wheels, 705 West Main Street, Endicott, NY, 12760.

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