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Food and Company 

Meals on Wheels delivers more than hot meals to seniors

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Chuck Fisk has been to this house only once before, and it was perhaps a decade ago. Motoko Hirata, an 80-year-old woman with a thick Japanese accent, is so glad to see him.

“Come in, come in!” she urges. “Sit down, sit down.”

When he presents her with a warm container of stuffed bell pepper, rice and carrots, she exclaims, “Oh, boy, that’s nice!” Fisk can only sort of decipher Hirata’s stories — about season her husband who was sooo fi -ine and her daughter who comes and visits often — and she doesn’t seem too interested in Fisk’s anecdote about teaching ESL at the community college decades ago. But this much is clear: Hirata loves the company.

It’s clear because she tells Fisk, many times, how much she loves the company. “It’s pretty lonely,” she says, to grow old and see so few faces in a day. Aside from her daughter, she says, she sees her caseworker and talks on the phone with friends from Japan. And on weekdays around noon, she sees the Meals on Wheels volunteer who brings her a hot lunch.

Through the Meals on Wheels program, Mid-City delivers about 500 meals to housebound seniors at lunchtime each weekday, powered by more than 40 volunteers every day — many of whom are retirees themselves.

Each weekday at 10:30 am, the fleet of volunteers bustles in the halls of the Meals on Wheels building, picking up hot meals for delivery, a neatly marked map and a set of directions with special instructions, like which senior on the route gets the diabetic meal, and how to find Motoko Hirata’s house, which is set so far back from the street that you’d miss it if you blinked while driving by. Fisk coordinates a volunteer “power pool” for Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, which means team members work together to cover their assigned routes each month.

Meals on Wheels is the only source of cooked food for many of its clients, says Mid-City Concerns development director Tricia Dormaier. And for many of them, like Motoko Hirata, the delivery volunteers present a respite from solitude.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Buy a Valentine’s Day Cinn-A-Gram

For $20, two Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, a mug and ready-to brew coffee will be delivered to your beau on the morning of Feb. 12. All the funds go straight to seniors — each Cinn-A-Gram sold provides five hot meals for seniors.

Deliver Cinn-a-grams

On Feb. 12, Meals on Wheels will need 75 volunteers to run their buns to doorsteps.

Deliver Meals

It can be once a week or once a year – whatever works with your life. Volunteers donate their time (about 90 minutes per route), vehicle use and gas mileage. Deliveries are at 10:30 on weekdays. Mid-City Concerns volunteer coordinator Heidi Mott says some volunteers on her database of 700 only volunteer once a year. “Whatever you want to do,” she says.

Donate Money

Each meal provided for a senior costs $4. Those seniors who can pay for a portion of their meal service do. “We don’t turn anybody away,” says Mid-City Concerns development director Tricia Dormaier. “They pay what they can afford to pay.” If a client cannot pay, her meals are paid for by the organization’s Benevolence Fund. That’s where you come in – you can give any amount your wish, or you can Adopt-a- Senior and provide all her meals on an ongoing basis.

Deliver Pet Food

Once a month on Saturday, volunteers make a different kind of delivery. “We found a lot of our clients receiving meals were feeding the meals to their pets,” says Dormaier.

Make Blankets

As often as possible, Meals on Wheels meets special needs for their clients. During the cold winter, delivery volunteers offer warm blankets to seniors. Where do they get those blankets? From you crafty types, of course!

To volunteer or donate, visit mowspokane.org or call 456- 6597.

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