CAB’s ‘Comfort’ food delivered with a smile
volunteer centre, the CAB RH Rediker, delivers well over 6000 hot meals each year with their Meals on Wheels service. This is an impressive number of meals on its own, but after delivering twenty-eight of those meals last Thursday with volunteer Linda Durocher, that number has taken on a new meaning.
After packing up Linda’s van with several coolers of hot soup, spaghetti and sauce, and desserts, which had just been freshly prepared by the CAB’s cooks, Jovette Higgins, Denise Bernier and Stephanie Maheu, along with a few frozen meals, we headed off. “We deliver to the farthest homes first then make our way back,” said Linda as we headed to Ogden. Leaving the centre at 10:50, it took us 35 minutes just to deliver the first two meals, and anoth- er half an hour to deliver three more! The roads were slippery, bumpy, sometimes steep and narrow, and Linda’s experience delivering mail in the region for many years came in handy. Once we got back to Stanstead, the deliveries were fast and furious as we tried to get the meals to their destinations as quickly as possible.
Irene Thomson, in her nineties, was looking forward to her lunch when I arrived with it. “The meals are delicious. I wouldn’t be able to stay at home if I didn’t have this service,” she said.
Because it was Meals on Wheels Week last week, the Meals on Wheels clients had their meals brought to them by a ‘guest’ deliverer each day. Ambulance technician Justin Dewey delivered 23 meals with volunteer driver William Comstock on Monday.
“It was amazing to see how far they go to deliver meals. It’s a pretty good service and we’re very fortunate to have people that volunteer like that. And it was fun to see how happy and appreciative people are; some had their tables all set and ready to eat,” commented Justin, adding: “It was an experience that I’d like to repeat.”
Stanstead mayor Philippe Dutil enjoyed his experience delivering 30 meals on Tuesday with Linda Durocher. “You don’t have too much time to talk but the people are very happy to see you. A few didn’t recognize me without the beard,” said the mayor.
Stanstead’s new Fire Chief James Runciman surprised many clients when he arrived, in uniform, bearing the hot meals on Wednesday. “The people were happy to meet the new Fire Chief but we didn’t have a lot of time to talk. I also presented the clients with flowers since it was Meals on Wheels week, but I had to tell them that they weren’t from me or my wife would be jealous,” joked the Fire Chief. “It’s good to see that volunteers get out and do that for the public, good to see that it’s available; it was impressive. I would volunteer to do that again.”
“Meals on Wheels is a nice service that is appreciated and necessary and we’re happy to be there for that. It’s not just about the food, but also the contact with others, both on the phone when they call us and the contact with the volunteers,” commented Mylene LaBonté, the director of the volunteer centre. “Our territory is very large but we try to accommodate everyone. On Mondays only, Lynn Wood delivers hot meals and frozen meals in Ayer’s Cliff before her fitness class there.”
The CAB RH Rediker needs more drivers for the Meals on Wheels program, particularly since requests for the service are increasing. “We actually have two groups of volunteers: those who leave the area for the winter and the golfers who leave to play golf in the warm weather, so March is always a hard month. We’re always looking for volunteers to alleviate the load,” said Ms. LaBonté.
The Meals on Wheels program provides hot and frozen meals to seniors 60 years of age or older, the physically impaired, someone suffering from an illness or convalescing, and mothers with new babies. They are delivered four days a week, Monday through Thursday, and as of next month, the price is going from $4 to $5 a meal. “We haven’t had a price hike in ten years,” mentioned the director. For more information about volunteering or receiving the meals at your door, call the CAB at 819 8767748.
Margaret Houle, at left, received a carnation from volunteer driver Linda Durocher during Meals on Wheels Week.