Meals on Wheels provides a nutritious meal, a friendly smile and a safety check that helps keep 2.5 million seniors healthy, safe and living independently in their own homes each year.
Now a part of the Lutheran SeniorLife family, Lutheran Service Society operates two Meals on Wheels programs in Beaver County in Rochester and Aliquippa, serving an average of 125 clients every day. Diana Dengel, the Aliquippa site coordinator, is on a mission to serve even more.
Recently retired from the postal service, Dengel along with her husband Michael, began volunteering with the Meals on Wheels program and very quickly became passionate about their work. “I didn’t realize the need until I went out into the homes on deliveries,” Dengel said.
Each day, Dengel and her dedicated group of volunteers prepare and package meals consisting of a nutritious three-course tray meal and a bag lunch containing bread and butter, a sandwich, fruit and a dessert for delivery from the House of Prayer Lutheran Church into Aliquippa, Hopewell and Center Townships. Volunteers at the Rochester site operate out of Grace Lutheran Church and serve Rochester, East Rochester, Ambridge, Beaver, Conway and New Brighton.
“A lot of our clients are age 70 and above,” Dengel said. “They don’t want to give up the ability to do things for themselves. This is our way just helping them out.”
As important as the healthy meals they deliver, Dengel said, is the social interaction the clients receive from the volunteer delivery drivers. “The volunteers make sure they see and talk with each client they deliver to. Families are secure knowing a volunteer will be knocking on the door every day and visiting with their loved one for a few moments,” she said, explaining that emergency contact information is kept on each client so that she can follow up immediately if something seems amiss.
All of this for a daily donation of just $5.
Dengel said that both the Aliquippa and Rochester sites also depend on donations from businesses, organizations and individuals to help cover overhead expenses, as well as cover the cost of meals for clients who can’t afford to pay.
“Striving to keep the senior citizens of our community safe, secure and nourished in their own homes is our goal, and we take pride in fulfilling that mission.”
Photo at right: Meals on Wheels volunteers like Michael Dengel deliver a healthy meal to more than 125 clients in Beaver County every day.