Community Leaders Participate in Community Champions Week
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 enable them to serve America’s seniors all year long. The 17th annual March for Meals campaign gives the businesses, organizations, governments and volunteers who contribute so generously in their communities an opportunity to support homebound seniors in a variety of ways to make America stronger and healthier.
Last week was Community Champions Week. From Monday, March 18th through Friday, March 22nd, Interfaith Neighbors invited community leaders to come out and volunteer with our Meals on Wheels program to see first hand how important the program is to the senior citizens we serve every day. And, this year we had a tremendous response!
Congressman Frank Pallone visited first with Paul McEvily at Interfaith Neighbors and where the 1,100 meals that are delivered and served each day originate. They discussed the importance of the federal funding that supports the program. From there Congressman Pallone jumped in a delivery van with Meals on Wheels driver Denis Eagan and delivered meals door to door in Asbury Park.
Later that day, State Senator Vin Gopal and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling joined Meals on Wheels driver Brandon Terry on his Meals on Wheels delivery route in Long Branch. They talked with residents about how important the meal service is to them and how they’ve come to rely on Brandon’s daily visits.
The Meals on Wheels Senior Nutrition program starts off at Interfaith Neighbors’ 810 Fourth Avenue, Asbury Park facility. Early each morning staff and volunteers prepare the 1,100 or so meals that are to be delivered and served each day. From there, the meals are distributed to Senior Centers across Monmouth County. At the Senior Centers, approximately 125 volunteers pick up meals for delivery to home bound seniors in the vicinity of those Senior Center sites, and staff and volunteers serve meals to seniors who come to the Senior Centers for lunch each day. During Community Champions Week, community leaders came out to several Senior Centers to volunteer and talk with seniors.
At the Neptune Township Senior Center, Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone visited, donned an apron, and assisted in serving lunch. Neptune Mayor Carol Rizzo and Deputy Mayor Robert Lane also helped out. Senior Center Director Randy Bishop and Interfaith Neighbors Executive Director Paul McEvily shared with them the impact of Monmouth County funding at the Center and on the Meals on Wheels program.
The Middletown Senior Center enjoyed two visits during the course of the week. Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso visited, served lunch, and talked with the seniors there that day about their concerns. Freeholder Gerry P. Scharfenberger also visited with the seniors at the Middletown Senior Center. Each day the Middletown Senior Center serves lunch to 15-20 seniors. Thirty-eight volunteers support seven delivery routes that deliver meals to 40 homebound seniors in the Middletown area.
The Howell Township Senior Center serves 30-50 meals each day at the center. They start the meal off with the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of “God Bless America”. Monmouth County Freeholder Susan Kiley visited the Howell Senior Center twice during Community Champions Week. She led the pledge and singing of “God Bless America” each day, and then donned her apron and served meals to this lively group of seniors. Howell Township Councilman Thomas Russo also joined in with serving meals on Wednesday and spoke with his constituents about their needs and concerns.
Two other Councilwomen joined in during Community Champions Week, partnering up with volunteers and staff on door to door delivery routes. Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton joined Interfaith Neighbors driver Denis Eagan delivering meals to residents at Comstock Court Apartments and Robinson Towers in Asbury Park. In Red Bank, Red Bank Councilwoman Kate Triggiano joined Meals on Wheels volunteer Manny Palustre on his door to door delivery route through Red Bank.
Interfaith Neighbors is grateful for our community leaders who took the time to come out and learn firsthand the importance of the Meals on Wheels senior nutrition program of our senior citizen neighbors. If you would like to get involved and volunteer with Meals on Wheels, please call 732-775-0525.
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