Lunch with a Friend
Herb Reed’s home is the sixth stop on volunteer Margaret Steppe’s Friday Meals on Wheels route. One recent day, she brought the famed former Red Bank Regional football and track coach a sympathy card with his hot lunch because Herb, now 90 years old, had just lost his son, Kevin, to illness the week before.
They talked quietly for a while, after which Herb shared that he enjoys and appreciates Margaret’s company. In fact, Margaret and Coach have become good friends as a result of our senior meal program.
There’s a tremendous bravery, combined with kindness and good humor, on Interfaith Neighbors’ Meals on Wheels routes as meal recipients face illness, a financial situation, and aging but also have a strong will to keep going through life’s many challenges.
Margaret Steppe is part of that daily life. The retired NYC Staten Island special education teacher says she gets so much back from her volunteer job of the past six years. Her own husband died in 2006, and she has two grown daughters.
“You meet new friends delivering meals and they give you an outlook on what life is ahead,” she said. “My mom got Meals on Wheels, and I kind of thought it was payback time for what they did for her. The hardest part is when you get attached to people on your route, and then, because of circumstances, they may go into different living arrangements.”
And, while often a delivery means just that, handing the noonday meal to the recipient at the door, Margaret and many others also can be found inside visiting and seeing how the last few days have been. One man had just lost his mother. A woman, now 85, lives with her husband in the home he built 60 years ago. She told Margaret her husband had just been hospitalized because of a stroke. When a couple did not answer the door, Margaret said she would circle back after her other deliveries to try again and see if they were home, and if not, she’d have the office follow up to check on their health and safety.
Red Bank Site director Margaret McGinn says most volunteers deliver once a week and routes usually take about an hour. Margaret Steppe took on a long route with 13 stops that can be two hours or longer and includes homes in Red Bank, Little Silver, Fair Haven and Rumson.
Margaret is one of the 50 volunteers who deliver meals from Interfaith’s site at the Red Bank Senior Center where longtime worker Ann Bacon and volunteers get the meals ready to go. There are 8 delivery routes out of Red Bank serving 68 senior citizens. Across Monmouth County, Interfaith Neighbors can call on a loyal cadre of over 500 volunteers to help deliver over 1,000 meals a day to seniors throughout the county.
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