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It’s The People
Meals on Wheels provides connections and nutrition
By Jessica Laskey
When Carolyn Kay wanted to volunteer after retirement, she chose Meals on Wheels by ACC because of the people.
“They were—and still are—dedicated and kind and hard working and helpful and they care about the people they serve,” Kay says. “What more could you want?”
Eight years on, those people still inspire Kay on her weekly rounds delivering meals to seniors.
“I’ve learned a lot from (my clients),” Kay says. “Usually, nobody sees them. They see the gray hair, they see the wrinkles, that they’re not working and they think they’re just an old goat with gray hair. But I’ve met some lovely people with some great stories.”
Meals on Wheels by ACC began in 2010 to provide nutritious meals to seniors age 60 and older in Sacramento County who have a hard time leaving the house or preparing food. The organization serves roughly 2,000 seniors each week with hundreds of volunteers.
“At first when considering volunteering, people can be a little frightened off because it’s also your responsibility to make sure the people you deliver to are OK,” Kay says. “We’re required to tell the state if we see something wrong, like a relative who seems to be taking advantage or if the client’s health is going downhill.
“That’s not necessarily something you’re going to run into every day, but it’s important. We’re not the main person that takes care of them, but we at least make sure they’re healthy and able to function.”
Kay says many Meals on Wheels clients are “senior orphans,” older folks who never married or had kids, or whose families live far away. “They’re alone,” she says, “and they need somebody checking in on them.”
Kay is not dissimilar in age to many clients. She turns 75 this year. A native of Massachusetts, she moved to Sacramento with her husband Bill to follow their daughter Elizabeth, who helped found The Met, the innovative public charter school on V Street.
Ten years ago, Kay retired as a software engineer, where she built networks “from the ground up.” Now she’s a watercolor artist who paints “anything in the world. I just paint whatever comes to my crazy little mind.”
Kay realized her free time could help others, especially people in her age group who weren’t as lucky to have good health. She delivers meals to an average of seven clients each week on her route in North Natomas.
“Meals on Wheels has a kitchen off Route 16 where we all drive in and park,” the Pocket resident says. “If you have a cold meal route like mine, they put boxes of five meals in your car and you take off and deliver them.
“You talk to people as much as you can, but you also have to make sure you deliver your meals within two hours so the food doesn’t spoil. (On a hot meal route, food is delivered daily in a heated bag to keep the meal above 140 degrees.) I usually pick up at 9 a.m. and I’m done by 11:30. It’s a morning. I think most people could do it.”
For information on volunteering and donating, visit mowsac.org.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.