Sandy Hill residents Carol and Brian Waters have, between them, worked with Meals on Wheels (MOW) Ottawa for 40 years, both as volunteers on the delivery of meals and members of the organization’s Board of Directors. For many years Carol was also a major fundraiser. In addition, their daughter Olivia helped on deliveries starting as a child which gave great pleasure to clients including one who always had a can of Coke waiting for her upon arrival.
The need for this service is emphasized by the fact that around 10,000 meals are delivered each month in the city by MOW including over 800 meals to 40 clients in Sandy Hill. The importance of the service goes beyond its basic nutritional benefits and is encapsulated in the motto of MOW which is “More Than A Meal.” Many of its clients are isolated and homebound. We realize as volunteers delivering a meal at lunchtime that we are often the only person that those clients will see that day. In addition to the social interaction, if required, we are able to notify MOW about any potential problems that might be apparent during delivery which can then contact other social service providers as necessary.
Christmas Day is a special occasion each year for MOW. A group of volunteers gathers at a restaurant in Ottawa early in the morning to prepare a turkey meal with all the trimmings which is then delivered to over 100 clients. As well, packages of gifts and goodies are prepared and delivered with the meal. All of this is provided free of charge. The joy apparent on all of the recipients’ faces is wonderful to see knowing that, for some of them on this very special day, we may be the only persons with whom they have contact.
COVID-19 has put added pressure on MOW. Not only has the demand for meals increased considerably but also the organization has had to adjust to the many public health protocols. From the start of the pandemic we were involved in the daily symptomatic screening of clients prior to meal delivery. Apart from its obvious health necessity this gave one the added pleasure of an early morning chat with clients about their overall well-being.