Meals on Wheels is a familiar name in the Parkes Shire as the service has been at the heart of our communities for 56 years.
It is all about people in the community joining forces to help others. Whilst age and disability may reduce some people’s capacity to get out and about, this service help make it possible for them to stay in their homes, and maintain their independence.
The organisation has 250 volunteers who help deliver hot meals to 90 clients in Parkes, Peak Hill, Trundle and Tullamore, as well as frozen meals across the shire.
The hot and nutritious meals are made fresh every day at the Parkes Services Club, and delivered Monday to Friday to clients. There is also the option to get frozen meals every day and over weekends.
According to the Manager of Meals on Wheels, Gill Kinsela, the service is not just for the frail aged and disabled, but for the whole community to keep people in their own homes longer with good nutrition and well-being.
About two years ago Meals on Wheels further extended its service to the community by starting a new initiative called Second Bite. Donated bread, fruit and vegetables from Coles are being made available to anyone in the community on weekdays from 12 to 1:30pm.
With funding extended until 2022, Meals on Wheels will be happy to welcome more volunteers. One hour a week or a month is all that it takes. Pay their new and very accessible office at 39 Currajong a visit, or call them on 6862 6189. No matter what you can offer, every bit of help adds up to a happier, healthier community.
Ian Phipps: Volunteer
Ian was convinced by his wife Dawn to become a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels nine years ago. They are part of a network of 250 volunteers who help to distribute meals to about 90 clients across the Parkes Shire. “I do the driving and Dawn does the delivery. She is good at talking to people,” said Ian.
Ian and Dawn help out once a month to deliver meals to nine clients. “You build up a good relationship with the clients over time, and even make good friends.” Ian says he just enjoys being a volunteer, and hopes a volunteer will one day bring meals to him.
“Meals on Wheels play a pretty big role in our community, especially in the lives of older people. They do not have busy lives any more and really look forward to their meals. It is great for them to have something to look forward to and not to worry about making the food.”
Parkes is one of only four services left in NSW to offer hot meals to clients. Ian said he would recommend to anyone to become a volunteer. “It only takes one hour out of your day.”
Deb Wren: Client Support Officer
Deb joined Meals on Wheels more than four years ago as a staff member and has since taken on the responsibility of looking after the clients and volunteers.
One of the highlights of her job is listening to clients’ stories. “They are all fantastic characters.”
She also enjoys doing all the organising, and being part of the team. It gives her a lot of satisfaction working for such an essential service in the community looking after the elderly and disabled, especially in a regional area where the service is vital.
“Visiting a client is so important as you are often the only person they would see that day. They all become your friends and it generates a lot of caring.”
As for the volunteers, Deb feels the work gives them a sense of self as they are helping the community. “Parkes has one of the best turnouts of volunteers in NSW.”
The best part for her is seeing the smiles on the volunteers’ faces. “They are always so happy… and they get as many smiles from clients as they give.”
Bob Fernando: Volunteer
Bob joined more than eight years ago as a volunteer when he had time on his hands. “I like being productive, and they say volunteers live longer! I also enjoy passing on my kind spirit.”
For him it is not only about delivering a meal, which breaks the boredom of the day for many of the clients, but it is also about socialising. “I always try and crack a joke or two and you end up making friends.”
Bob fills in as driver whenever he is need- ed, and also helps out at Second Bite twice a week. Instead of throwing their food out, Coles donates bread, fruit and vegetables on a daily basis and every weekday from 12 to 1:30pm anyone in the community can visit Second Bite to help themselves to what- ever they need. “We get about 14 people who come in every day of all ages. The food is still in a very good condition.”
Bob ensures nothing is wasted. All the leftover food at the end of the week is donated again to owners of animals. “The food goes to horses, pigs, chickens and even a donkey.”