Meals on Wheels in Norfolk serves about 60 meals every day to the homes of those over 60 who are homebound and cannot provide for themselves. And every single meal makes a difference, said Jeni Schulzkump, Meals on Wheels coordinator.
“Having Meals on Wheels delivered is a bright spot of their day. It boosts health and what they can do in life, changes perspective to what they can do when they get healthy,” she said. “Most are homebound, they don’t get to see people ... seeing people when they deliver the meal, it’s a boost every day.”
The program, which is run through the Norfolk Senior Citizen Center, offers meals five days a week that are delivered by volunteers. The center also provides a congregate meal at noon on weekdays that serves an average of 40 people per day, Schulzkump said.
One of the volunteers is Carol Severa, who was first a recipient of Meals on Wheels for a short time. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer in 2016 and needed additional support, so her family convinced her to reach out to the program.
“I was on chemo and deteriorating. I lost strength and energy, my family talked me into it and set up Meals on Wheels,” Severa said. “... Now I’m much better and so I have volunteered from St. John’s this year to deliver Meals on Wheels. Our church does a month every year and you go every day for a month.”
The program, which also may help as a daily check on participants’ health, provides relationship-building with its daily visits, Severa said.
“Because you take the same route every day, you just kind of build up a relationship with whoever and a lot of times you figure, ‘I’m the only person this person has seen today,’ ” she said. “You try to interact, lighten up their day with some fun thing.”
Each meal is $8 and the United Way covers nearly all of the cost, said Anne Frisinger, executive director of the Norfolk Senior Center.
Frisinger appreciates the volunteers who give their time to deliver meals, and she encouraged people to get involved, if even in a small way. She also thanked donors who support United Way to make causes like Meals on Wheels possible.
“It does make an incredibly huge difference in our community whether they see it or not,” Frisinger said. “They need to be aware their dollars are appreciated and utilized in an absolutely wonderful way promoting health and well-being of folks in our community.”
Norfolk Senior Citizens’ Center Inc.
Director: Anne Frisinger
What services does your agency provide, and who generally does it serve? The Norfolk Senior Center provides the Meals on Wheels program to the City of Norfolk.
In what ways does the United Way assist you? It provides funds for those in the community who cannot afford to pay for their meals.
What percentage of your budget does the United Way fund? The United Way funds provide almost 100% of the suggested amount for the meals for those who cannot pay.
What are some new or ongoing needs that your agency is facing? The need is increasing as costs have gone up and it’s harder for some people to make ends meet.
If your agency did not receive United Way funds, how would it impact your ability to serve others? We would have to fundraise more.
Share a brief anecdote about how your agency has had an impact on the community as a whole or an individual who has been served. The volunteers who deliver our meals are so conscientious and caring that we have been able to assist people in getting the medical help they need. For example, we had retired nurses alert us about a gentleman who had an abdominal incision that was bleeding. Another volunteer was able to communicate with a Spanish-speaking woman to identify a problem with her medical supplies. Both of these instances highlight the fact that the Meals on Wheels program also serves as a safety check for our most vulnerable citizens here in Norfolk.