Meals on Wheels needs volunteers in the Tri-Cities

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Tri-Cities Volunteers needed at Meals On Wheels Client

Kennewick, WASH. (KAPP-KVEW) As we slowly return to a pre-pandemic normal in the Tri-Cities, Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels is looking to expand its reach, and they need your help. Since 1974, the organization has served seniors 60 years and older in need of a meal in Benton and Franklin counties.

Because of the staff and volunteers, 800 seniors receive a meal for every day of the week, totaling 18,000 meals a month. The demand for meals and support continues to grow and the program is in need of at least 80 more volunteers.

The first phase is to back to the pre-pandemic schedule by providing hot meals and visits five times a week to clients. As the eight dining sites for mobile seniors slowly re-open due to restrictions being lifted, the need for volunteers will continue to grow in the Tri-Cities.

As many seniors have been isolated during the pandemic, the need for caring volunteers is now more than ever. “90% of our clients say our volunteers are the ones they see the most,” said Kristi Thien the Nutrition Services Director for the Mid-Columbia Meals On Meals. Staff also say for some homebound seniors in the Tri-Cities; the volunteers are the only people they during the day. 

“It gives me a lot of purpose in my life because I think that’s what it does for others. It’s a set day in the week that you know people are relying on you.” –Diana Shankle, Volunteer, Mid-Columbia Meals On Meals.

TRI-CITIES VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES 2021

  • Preparing Meals in the Kitchen
    • Volunteers help chefs prepare the food, package them in air-tight containers and organize them into the appropriate delivery bags.
  • Sorting Meals and Nutritional Meals
    • Volunteers pack additional meals for the drivers to deliver with the client’s nutritional needs and preferences.
  • Delivery Driver
    • Deliver meals weekly to a planned route, check-in with the client, and brighten up their day.
  • Drive-thru Attendant
    • Volunteers deliver meals at on-site locations for those seniors who are mobile or family members picking up meals for seniors.
  • Café Server
    • Assisting in preparing and serving meals to mobile seniors and brightening up their day with a conversation, board games, and puzzles. (This will be available when the eight cafe locations can open back up)
  • Phone Buddy
    • Once a week, volunteers call a group of seniors, primarily those homebound, to check in and brighten up their day.

“Just last week, we had a guy come through the drive-thru. And his comment was, ‘Your works keep me out of an institution.’ Who doesn’t want to spend their final years living at home? What we do touches our community and not just these seniors; it touches their families.” Kristi Thien, Nutrition Services Director, Mid-Columbia Meals On Meals

RELATED: Meals on Wheels delivering fans to neighbors in need

NEW VOLUNTEER INFORMATION

For new in the Tri-Cities volunteers, there are a few things you may need to complete: a criminal background check, be fingerprinted if you’re out of the state, allow for a view of your driving record for the past three years, and supply a copy of your driver’s license and insurance to name a few. 

Volunteers who want to work in the central kitchen need to get a food handler permit. Organizers said it’s a quick 45 minute online course, and the $10 fee can be reimbursed. 

Team members said, when you first start the volunteer program, you shadow a few volunteers to get the hang of your shift. Shifts can be from an hour to two hours a week. 

Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels said they pride themselves on putting the safety of their clients, volunteers, and staff at the top of their pr

iority list. Natalie Huggins, the Volunteer and Site Staff Manager also says that they are very flexible with scheduling. 

“I came to volunteer because of the flexibility and things I could do preparing meals. I stay because the staff is phenomenal. We’ve gotten to know every single team member in the past two years personally. They are a great group of people. We’ve also had to change our scheduled several times, and they are so flexible, which makes us feel good. Oh, I can’t do Fridays anymore, but I could do Mondays and Tuesdays.” Josie Beach, Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering or have additional questions, please reach out to:

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