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Meals on Wheels volunteer delivers food, companionship

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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of 12 stories on volunteers in our community. The stories will be published as a countdown to the holiday, in honor of the 12 days of Christmas. Volunteer: Sallysue Stein Organization: Meals on Wheels Q: What do you do for your organization? I come to the Seniors First Café and drive every Monday. I drive the Meadow Vista, Applegate route, and into the Bowman area. Today I’m going to deliver 12 meals, but that doesn’t mean there are 12 stops, some are couples. I leave here by 11 a.m. and have to deliver within two hours because we have hot and cold portions of the meal and they have to fall within temperature ranges. Q: Why do you volunteer? One reason is I have the time to do it and I see the need out there for a lot of homebound seniors. I actually deliver with my mom, who is 84 years old and a healthy, fit senior. Her name is Butterfly and she always wears a bouncing butterfly in her hair. The sad part is when I get to the houses the clients are so excited to see her. It’s always, “Butterfly! How are you? Show me what you’re wearing!” and I’m chopped liver. I’m the one behind her dragging the food in. Nobody pays attention to me. Q: What are the highlights or challenges to volunteering? It’s really sad to see the dementia in some of the people. I’ve known one woman for over 30 years and she’s lost her short-term memory and doesn’t really know what’s happening. But the positive thing is she loves seeing me and still remembers me. People look forward to seeing us because sometimes we’re the only outside person they see. We’re this little bit of the outside world this person sees because most are stuck at home. We had one client in Meadow Vista who wanted to go to the post office, it was the end of our route so we took him to there. He said he would walk himself back, but my mother said, “I don’t think so.” We hear lots of funny stories, and they tell us lots. They share their lives with us — we meet their grandkids, sons and daughters. Q: What do you do when you’re not volunteering? I’m lucky I’m a kept woman. My husband works so I don’t have to. But I spend a lot of time volunteering with the Humane Society of the United States. I work on animal hoarding cases and went out after Hurricane Katrina. I was also the original founder of the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue and served on the hospital board for many years. Q: How can people volunteer their time or money? There are two main ways: volunteer your time — they always need drivers, even substitute drivers – and they need money. There was a financial crisis earlier this year where funding was cut and they had to cut several people out of the route. Seniors First also has plenty of other volunteer duties like fixing roofs and cleaning gutters, other than Meals on Wheels. For more information on volunteering for Meals on Wheels, call (530) 889-9500 ext. 206 or for other volunteer opportunities with Seniors First, such as the Friendly Visitor and Handy Person programs, call (530) 889-9500. ~ Michelle Miller-Carl