Having a hot meal, a friendly smile and someone to check in on their well-being everyday can make a huge difference in a person's life.
Area elected officials did just that when they joined with volunteers from the Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels Monday to deliver a daily meal to local seniors and other home-bound individuals as part of the 12th Annual March for Meals.
"Our organization would like to thank all who have participated in this year's event. The time our elected official have taken out of their busy schedules to show support of our organization in ending hunger means so much to this community," stated Sarah Hornbostel, executive director for the Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels.
OBSERVER Photo by Amy Vercant
Elected officials and volunteers met in the parking lot of St. John’s United Church of Christ for the 12th Annual March for Meals campaign. The elected officials traveled with the volunteers while they made their deliveries and visits to clients of Meals on Wheels. Pictured left to right are: Nick Piccolo, mayor of Silver Creek; Janet Keefe, Chautauqua County legislator, District 4; Richard Clarke, board president, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels; A.J. Dolce, mayor of Dunkirk; Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County executive; Sarah Hornbostel, executive director, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels; and Dan Heitzenrater, executive assistant to the county executive.
Elected officials who participated in this year's March for Meals were Village of Silver Creek Mayor Nick Piccolo, Chautauqua County District 4 Legislator Janet Keefe, Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce and County Executive Vince Horrigan.
Horrigan commented on the importance of the Meals on Wheels program.
"The senior nutrition program is so important to seniors and our communities. I love taking part in this. It promotes a great program that provides not just food, but socialization. I encourage everyone to support Meals on Wheels," he said.
"I love doing this every year. Meals on Wheels is a tremendous program. Seniors and our homebound residents rely on it. I'm glad to be part of it once again," said Dolce, who has participated in the event for a number of years.
Throughout March, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels participated in March for Meals, an annual national campaign sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Association of America that is intended to raise awareness of senior hunger throughout the community. As part of the effort, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels also conducted a community outreach campaign by posting flyers, mailing letters to local businesses and contact elected officials to raise funds and awareness of the urgency surrounding hungry and isolated seniors in Chautauqua County and across the United States.
Local seniors who are clients of Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels are excited about having their elected officials stop for a quick visit as they deliver the daily meal.
"Our clients say they are very impressed and very taken aback when the county executive takes the time to come and visit with them. They are very thrilled with that. With all of our mayors and legislators, and especially the county executive participating, it allows the community to know we are all working together for the greater cause, which is to help people," Hornbostel said.
Hornbostel said the organization serves 200 clients with home-delivered meals plus an additional 200 at dining sites throughout Northern Chautauqua County including several adult day care centers, senior centers and senior apartment complexes.
Due to an increased need and therefore the addition of more clients, Hornbostel said there is a need for more volunteers and financial support.
"Our office has grown in size and we have added more clients. The need has grown. Having more volunteers to distribute meals would allow us to break up the routes so each volunteer wouldn't have as many visits," she said. "Volunteering takes as little as one day a week for one hour, and makes all the difference in the life of another."
Hornbostel added that donations are always welcome and appreciated to support March for Meals. Supporting the organization provides a highly critical need for those who are homebound - having someone check on their well being on a daily basis.
"We aim to provide not only a nutritious meal with a friendly smile, but also a safety check for our homebound seniors," said Hornbostel.
For more information or to reach out to end hunger, contact Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels at 366-8822 or visit www.mowaa.org/marchformeals.
March for Meals is a community-by-community nationwide celebration of the Meals on Wheels programs that keep senior neighbors happy and healthy.
The month of March mobilizes hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs across the country to reach out to their communities and build the support that will sustain them all year long.
Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels was established in 1970. It is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit agency whose purpose is to provide home- delivered meals to individuals who find it difficult to prepare daily nutritious meals.
Service is provided in Dunkirk, Fredonia, Silver Creek, Sheridan, Forestville, Irving, Brocton and Portland. Meals on Wheels is a private non-profit that works in partnership with the County Office for the Aging.