Day 3: Like Home

And I'm off!

Prior to embarking on my Meals on Wheels delivery route this morning, I watched a brief training video in which WMC-TV anchorman Joe Birch cheerfully informed me that I should try to make conversation with the homebound senior citizens I would be meeting. “You may be the only person they speak to all day,” he explained. I started to worry that perhaps I was not up to the task of being a singular bright spot in the day of a hungry, lonely elderly person. I wondered if I would spend the morning consumed with guilt each time I had to leave a destination. I departed the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) parking lot with two coolers of food and a feeling of moderate anxiety.

And I'm off!

And I’m off!

As I delivered hot meals to homes and apartments in the Berclair area, two things struck me. First, I realized how close I was to the street where I grew up. At one point, I was less than two miles away from my old house, driving down a road I had once ridden my bike on as a child. This was not some alien pocket of the city I had never seen- it was the first Memphis I ever knew.

The more salient realization was how few of these men and women seemed truly isolated. When I complimented one woman on her front yard, which was festooned with Christmas decorations, she crowed, “Oh, my daughter-in-law put those up for me!” Several people had children, grandchildren, or other companions in the living room when I arrived. Almost everyone had at least one dog or cat.

As an animal lover, I often find myself striking up conversations with people about their pets. Today was no different. While I was admiring one gentleman’s beautiful calico cat, I suddenly remembered a conversation I had with my mother the night before. She had informed me that an elderly friend who suffered a stroke was being moved into an assisted living facility. Unfortunately, this meant the woman would have to give up her beloved cat. Even though I understood why such a step was necessary, I grew indignant nonetheless. “Isn’t having a stroke and moving out of your home traumatic enough?” I demanded.

That’s when I realized just how valuable a service like Meals on Wheels truly is. Of course, the problem of homebound senior citizens struggling with food insecurity was reason enough for MIFA to offer this program. It occurred to me that maybe one of the reasons I wasn’t seeing a lot of sad, lonely people was because they still had that important emotional connection to a home. They were tethered to the places and people (and pets) that gave them a sense of belonging.

Later, as volunteer specialist Isaiah Swanson gave me a tour of the impressive MIFA headquarters, he confirmed this impression. “The goal with all of our programs is always to try and keep people in their homes,” he told me. I wondered how many of the people I had met on my route would have ended up in a nursing home or similar institution without MIFA’s programs.  I thought of all the people who had eaten their meals in places that still felt like home. At the end of the day, I pulled out of the parking lot feeling substantially more hopeful than I had the first time around.

MIFA programs provide so many opportunities to serve the Memphis community, so visit www.mifa.org/volunteer to find out how you can help.

It’s A Blessing

MIFA Headquarters
The kitchen was spotless!

The kitchen was spotless!

Today’s adventure took me to Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association ( MIFA).  My assignment was to help with Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers warm and nutritious meals to homebound senior residents around the city.  I was looking forward to working with this program because my mom volunteered with Meals on Wheels many years ago.  I remember how cheerful she always seemed when she returned from delivering her route.

I met Linda, the Inter-Faith and Outreach Officer at MIFA, who was going to be my partner for the day.  She was a small woman with a big personality, and she was overflowing with knowledge about MIFA.  We received our route, loaded the car with two coolers of food, one for hot food and one for cold, and headed to our first stop not far from the MIFA headquarters.   “I’ll go with you at this first house so you can get comfortable with the routine,” she said.  Perfect!  At the first house, she pulled out the milk and desert from the cold container, and I pulled out the sealed tray of hot food and bread from the hot container.  As we walked up to the door, my hands quickly warmed up from the tray I was holding.  I was quite surprised at how hot the “hot” food was!  I could smell the aroma of the turkey and gravy that the seniors would be having that day which reminded me of my mom’s kitchen on Thanksgiving.   We knocked on the door and were greeted by the daughter of the woman who lived at the residence.  With a “Good morning!” and a smile, we handed her the food, and off we went to make our next delivery.

Sometimes, the residents want to chat for a few minutes; sometimes they don’t.   The main goal is to ensure they are receiving at least one nutritious meal a day since some of them will eat nothing else.

Linda and I, outside the MIFA kitchen

Linda and I, outside the MIFA kitchen

As we got back in the car, Linda told me a funny story that happened at one of the houses on our route the last time she delivered.  As she was walking back to her car, she could hear the elderly woman’s neighbor ask what was going on.  The woman explained that Linda had just delivered her meal, and it was a blessing.  “What?” the neighbor said.  “It’s a blessing!” the woman said.  “What?” the neighbor said again.  “IT’S A BLESSING!” the woman yelled.  We chuckled.

We continued on our route and went to a large two-story colonial house on South Parkway.  As we pulled up the driveway, I could tell at one time this was a stately home, but time and the elements were taking its toll on the outside.  “I can handle this one,” I said.  I gathered the food, carefully walked up to the door on the cracked and buckled concrete of the driveway, and knocked.  I could see movement on the other side of the door, so I knew the resident was on her way. Slowly, a walker appears around the door, and ever so gingerly, an auburn haired woman appears, fumbles with the lock on the door, and opens it.  “Hey there!” I said.  “You’re new!” she responded.  I explained that I was helping out for the day and handed her the food, making sure she put it safely down on the table next to the door.  She thanked me and told me to have a blessed day.  There’s that word “bless” again!

I learned how powerful that word is today after hearing it several times, and after some rich conversations with Linda in the car.  A blessing is a gift that should be shared.  Something as small as a smile or a “have a great day” could completely change a person’s day.  In today’s case, it was a warm nutritious meal provided through the Meals on Wheels program by MIFA.  Inter-Faith the “IF” of the organization’s name – signifies people of all faiths working together in the spirit of Martin Luther King’s vision.  Now that truly is a blessing.

MIFA Headquarters

MIFA Headquarters

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Spread The Love.

It’s the fourth day of my Volunteer Odyssey, and I continue to be impressed with how our city’s charitable and nonprofit organizations provide education, awareness, and funding for human rights initiatives. Today, I visited the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) and learned more about their efforts to support the independence of vulnerable seniors and families in crisis. This amazing organization offers an array of services tailored to meet the needs and challenges in Memphis neighborhoods. In the first part of the visit, I met with Kristi to help deliver meals to residents. The Meals on Wheels program provides 1,200 hot, nutritious lunches each weekday for clients who are either homebound elderly or seniors at congregate sites. Yes, you read that correctly – 1,200 prepared meals are delivered by volunteers each weekday! It’s an incredible effort to ensure that the nutritional needs of seniors are met. Also, it serves as a connection with the outside for those who are homebound.

The meal route with Kristi took place in an area that really isn’t too far from more affluent parts of Memphis. In fact, we visited one boarded-up apartment complex that remains within the view of the FedEx Forum. When you notice such a contrast, you can’t help but connect it to our city’s concerns with poverty and violence. Before we began our route, we packed a good supply of warm trays with food, rolls, milk, and fruit for our stops. During the drive, Kristi shared with me more information about Meals on Wheels and how the program enables seniors, who live at or below the poverty line, to remain in their homes and continue to be an integral part of the community. You could tell how these special deliveries enhance and improve the quality of life for seniors in Memphis. Just seeing smiles on clients’ faces was enough to show how MIFA has truly helped clients maintain independence and a peace of mind. I admire how MIFA continues to address issues of poverty, hunger, and isolation by pursuing both immediate relief and long-term solutions through their programs and services.

After assisting Kristi with the meal route, I met with the communications team to learn more about their work in branding, fundraising, and marketing for MIFA. Imagine being part of something that brings hope and opportunity to so many people! Ellen, Terrie, and Jim reminded me the importance of teamwork for building morale and achieving goals. With the organization’s collaborative work environment, there are opportunities for members of different skills and interests to learn, grow, and make a difference. Who wouldn’t love that? My appreciation for MIFA and its programs grew exponentially as I heard and saw how their work continues to strengthen the lives of seniors and families in crisis.

A pep talk from Ellen, Terrie, and Jim was just what I needed as I look for meaningful work and ways to gain more experience in creative design. While sharing their experiences, Ellen, Terrie, and Jim made it clear that you can expect excellent results when team members’ roles are clearly defined. In order to achieve goals and objectives, you must be flexible and open to new ideas. It’s no wonder MIFA has done well in their efforts to alleviate hunger and suffering. Everyone is there to educate and train the public, as well as make a difference in clients’ everyday lives. One Team, One Goal – making Memphis a better place.

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Live from the LPBC Radio Show

Jeremy, Sally, Alexandra, Pete, & Dwayne (from left to right)

Day 1. I feel like there should be some sort of dramatic “Law and Order” music playing right now. This morning I shadowed Jeremy Park – an important mover and shaker you should know if you don’t already. He is the vice president of communications for Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, a member of its LLC, president of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club and hosts both the LPBC Radio Show (Saturdays 1-2 p.m. on News Radio 600 WREC) and television show, “The Spark” (the third Thursday of each month at 9 p.m. on WKNO-TV). Additionally, Jeremy writes the “Giving Back” column that appears each Sunday in The Commercial Appeal. The LPBC is an organization which hosts more than 150 free events throughout the course of the year to bring businesses together through community engagement. If you would like to learn more about the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, visit www.thelpbc.com.

I was lucky enough to shadow Jeremy on a day when he was recording his radio show with

Jeremy, Sally, Alexandra, Pete, & Dwayne (from left to right)

Jeremy, Sally, Alexandra, Pete, & Dwayne (from left to right)

three very special guests: Peter Tosches, the senior vice president of corporate communications for ServiceMaster; Sally Heinz, the executive director of Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA); and Dwayne Spencer, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. Needless to say, I was amongst a great wealth of knowledgeable and service-minded people in the Memphis area.

First up was Pete Tosches from ServiceMaster – the umbrella company that owns

Peter Tosches, ServiceMaster

Peter Tosches, ServiceMaster

Terminix, Merry Maids, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Furniture Medic, and AmeriSpec Inspection Services. It’s not a coincidence that “service” is the first word in the company name, according to Pete, who explained that service is embedded in the heritage of ServiceMaster and courses through all of its entities. Also a big philanthropist in the community, ServiceMaster often allows its employees to volunteer on company time. For example, every Tuesday Pete has a team that delivers Meals on Wheels while also engaging in a staff meeting during their car ride together.  Additionally, ServiceMaster is a huge advocate of Habitat for Humanity and remains one of the top builders and sponsors in Memphis! Pete explained that building a home together puts everyone on the same level and it’s a great teambuilding activity. You can learn more about what ServiceMaster has to offer at www.servicemaster.com.

Sally Heinz took the microphone next to represent MIFA, an organization founded by various religious leaders to help the community come together immediately following

Sally Heinz, MIFA

Sally Heinz, MIFA

Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. MIFA’s main programs focus on helping both families in crisis and the elderly gain independence through numerous programs.  MIFA distributes 1,200 meals every weekday for “Meals on Wheels,” and during the delivery of these meals, both the recipient and volunteer have a chance to connect by sharing stories and life experiences. Other programs include helping teenagers prepare for college, advocating for rights on behalf of nursing home residents, and making homes handicap accessible. MIFA even has a program where Memphis residents can add $1 to their monthly MLGW energy bills to be donated to MIFA. To learn more about MIFA and all of its programs, check out www.mifa.org.

Last but certainly not least, Dwayne Spencer from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

Dwayne Spencer, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

Dwayne Spencer, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

was highlighted on the show. The organization Dwayne spearheads was originally founded to solve a housing crisis in rural Georgia by helping families in need of housing receive a newly built home to call their own. Habitat for Humanity walks these individuals through the entire homebuilding process from outreach to education and maintenance. This program actually saves the community costs, and it’s important to note that Habitat for Humanity will not build without a sponsorship. Furthermore, Habitat for Humanity operates a thrift store on Winchester Road called ReStore, which keeps furniture and goods out of landfills. The store relies heavily on volunteers for the daily operations. To find out more, go to www.memphishabitat.com and keep in mind that this past Saturday, March 28th was Executive Build Day where local executives were encouraged to come out and work together on a building project. Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers and no construction experience is necessary!

Though I wasn’t in the hot seat, I felt like I was in an episode of “Frasier” while in the radio booth. Jeremy had a producer in the next room who recorded the interviews, which I enjoyed experiencing live because of the energy that emanated from the dialogues. How lucky am I to witness these conversations and meet some pretty fantastic members of the community at the same time!?

After the radio show, Jeremy and I went to lunch, during which he offered me priceless advice on how to set myself apart from the competition in the job market and create a stellar professional reputation. He provided brutally honest feedback on my resume, for which I am truly grateful. He also kindly gave me a copy of his book, Giving Back with Purpose: Fueling Growth through Community Involvement.

My first day of Volunteer Odyssey was a huge success – stay tuned for Day 2!

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in writing, event planning, communications, or teaching. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or aesamsell@gmail.com.

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Week 13, Day 5: Adriene at MIFA Meals on Wheels

Exploring new parts of this city is something I enjoy. I observe these places like a child witnessing something for the first time, and I like it. It’s important to me to be aware of the city I call home, visiting all areas – even the unknown and out of the way ones. Though Memphis feels like a small town, it’s a big city, and there are so many places to be discovered. Traveling to these tucked away streets today, I had one of my favorite volunteer experiences yet as I delivered meals to seniors via Meals on Wheels. A bit of service mixed with traveling through new neighborhoods = delightful!

photo19John, a former Volunteer Odyssey participant joined me today. His company was a welcome addition to the morning. Having done this before, he drove the route through North Memphis as I navigated and handed out warm trays of food, rolls, milk, and fruit cups. We carted the prepared food in coolers from its origin at Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) to eight homes. MIFA does some really amazing things for the community, with a mission to promote and support independence of vulnerable populations like seniors. The simplicity of bringing them a nutritious meal allows them to stay in there homes and keep their independence.

MIFA, Meals on Wheels headquarters

Meals on Wheels headquarters (MIFA)

On our ride back, I had a strong sense of wanting to volunteer with Meals on Wheels again. Even more I wanted to share the experience with people I love. It was easy, enjoyable, and only took an hour or so of my time. A pretty great hour I’d say. I’ve always thought about the senior population being a forgotten one, and it felt nice to do something for them that is so important to their day. It was a pleasure connecting with each and every one of them, seeing them smile and offer gratitude, and if I was lucky, chatting for a short minute or two. I highly recommend volunteering with this program so you can brighten the day of a few seniors too.

 

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in community outreach, empowering people through movement and education. If you know of a great fit, please send it my way: AdrieneHoops@gmail.com

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Week 8, Day 1: Miki Skeen at MIFA

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On the drive down to MIFA, Janie Kathryn was putting pencil to paper to begin her volunteering journal. From the back seat, “Mom, how do you spell delivering?” When we pulled up to the parking lot of the Vance Avenue landmark, she shoved her notebook into the front seat and there was one question written in perfect, little first grade print. “What is it like delivering MEALS on WHEELS?”

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At MIFA we met Sarah, the President and CEO of Volunteer Odyssey and the wheels to our meals for the day. We also met Rick, MIFA’s Volunteer Coordinator, who explained to me the route and details of our deliveries. It was actually rather easy, but perhaps only because Sarah was driving.

You may know that MIFA provides 1,800 hot lunches to homebound seniors each day.  It’s a big job and it was humbling to be a small part of it. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I underestimated Janie Kathryn’s role in our mission. If Sarah was the driver and I was the meal deliverer, Janie Kathryn was the elicitor of smiles.

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At each home, I repeated the resident’s name several times, reminding us both to use it. It seemed imperative. We knocked at each door, partially open in anticipation of the meal. For some it was possibly the only meal that would be consumed that day. As each resident emerged from each house, the expressions that might have been routine gratitude were replaced by engaging smiles, when they heard a little voice greet them by name. I might have gotten a little misty if I wasn’t trying so hard not to embarrass my child.

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After delivering seven meals, we returned our coolers, parted ways with Sarah, and headed to lunch. The smell of all those warm lunches will make you hungry! I asked Janie Kathryn to consider what it might be like if the lunch we were eating was the only meal we would have for the day. “Maybe we shouldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day so that we can know what it is like,” she innocently replied. I reminded her of this challenge over dinner, at which time we told Daddy what it was like delivering meals on wheels. We agreed on our intent to deliver more meals and elicit more smiles.

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Week 7, Day 5: Alicia Wooten at MIFA

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It’s sad to think that we have members of our community who only have one guaranteed meal a day, but if you are in prison you have three meals a day. Thankfully, Memphis has MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program. The Meals on Wheels program is MIFA’s largest program. With the help of 100 volunteers, 1,800 hot, nutritious, lunches are served to homebound elderly and seniors.

Day 5 1

My route today was in the Binghampton area. I drive through this community at least once a week, never to stop and think about the people in the houses or walking down the street. After today, I will think about all the smiling and grateful people I met in this community. Knock after knock, house after house, I was able to serve a hot meal. There was only one house on my route that there was no answer to my knock. The unanswered knock has resonated in my thoughts all day, wondering about who lives on the other side of the door. My hope is this resident was out with a family member or friend eating a meal. My prayer is that this resident ate today. My fear and worry is that this resident relies on this meal, are they hungry?

As we continued along our route to more houses, the car began to fill with the delicious smell of the food in the coolers. My stomach began to rumble and I started to think about what I would have for lunch today, having already eaten breakfast. Do the recipients of Meals on Wheels have this same luxury? I wonder if they have a family member, friend, or neighbor come by and help them with breakfast and dinner. Much of my weekend is consumed with eating out at my favorite Memphis restaurants. Who helps the homebound elderly prepare meals on the weekend or do they go hungry?

My day was made brighter after leaving each house. I was always thanked profusely, and even had one woman say “bless you child.” Seeing their faces light up at the smell of the meal is something I will never forget. Some of the individuals were chatty and made me want to sit on their couch and just talk, while some were quiet or had family members or aids at their home. I felt like I was doing something for them, but I left each doorstep with a smile to match theirs.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job as a Dental Hygienist. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or to aliciawooten@gmail.com

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Week 6, Day 5: Brittany Tuggle at MIFA

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Like many Memphians, I’ve long known about MIFA’s mission but have never taken the opportunity to participate in their volunteer programs. That all changed this morning when I set off to deliver Meals on Wheels with the help of my driver – and Volunteer Odyssey founder – Sarah.

It took about 15 minutes to pick up the meals and receive my route. I had one cooler of hot food and another cooler of cold food. MIFA makes the volunteer process seamless from start to finish. I had Sarah, as my partner and driver today. I double checked to make sure I had five complete meals, directions, and donation envelope. Once everything was packed, it was time to go on a Friday morning adventure.

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My route only had five houses, and it gave me a chance to explore the midtown area.  Each home I visited, the residents were happy to see me. As soon as the door opened, I was greeted with a smile.  With a greeting like that, I couldn’t help but smile back. I felt happy and humbled at the same time. I asked them how they were doing and if they needed anything else. I also gave them a donation envelope that could be picked up during their next food delivery. They were very thankful for the meal and drink.

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Taking the time to have real conversations with the residents we visited serves another purpose beyond helping maintain their sense of community; it also allows the volunteers to keep MIFA updated on how those residents are doing and if they may need a bit of extra help.

After our midtown exploration, Sarah and I  returned our route sheet and coolers to MIFA. The process was short, and easy, but despite how little time it took it was still very rewarding.  I got to meet new people, make sure they had a hot meal, and it felt good to be able to do something nice for someone else.

MIFA delivers meals Monday-Friday, excluding holidays. If you have an hour or two to spare one day, MIFA would love to have you volunteer. Thank you to the wonderful staff at MIFA for their hard work. I plan on going back soon to do more deliveries.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 5, Day 5: Samantha Hicks at MIFA

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photo (7)On day 5 I woke up bright and early and headed to meet Sarah (a fellow volunteer and the founder of Volunteer Odyssey) at MIFA. I actually didn’t know what MIFA stood for until that morning. Thanks to a quick history lesson from Sarah, I now know that MIFA was formed in the late 1960’s when community members band together to find a way to fight poverty and racial division in the Memphis area. MIFA started the meals on wheels program in Memphis in 1974 and has been serving hot meals to citizens 5 days a week ever since. Today the meals on wheels program feeds 1,800 seniors in Memphis! Many of these meals are delivered by volunteers.

Thanks to the very organized and detail oriented staff at MIFA, the process of volunteering was extremely easy.

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Step 1: Walk into MIFA and receive your route assignment

Step 2: Load your car with the coolers marked with your route number (one cooler for hot food and one for cold)

Step 3: Follow the step by step directions on your route sheet in order to get to the first house

Step 4: Give the senior at the home the food and drink

Step 5: Repeat steps 3&4

After you have finished delivering all of your meals, ten in total, you head back to MIFA and return their cooler. That is it!
The entire process only takes about an hour and a half from start to finish and you have done an amazing thing for ten people!

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Everyone on my route was very nice and thankful to be receiving the food. There wasn’t a single individual who wanted to stand and chat with me which was kind of disappointing. You know, since I like to talk and all. But, I can imagine that with some of the routes you might encounter a few individuals who don’t mind or might even be eager to have an early morning, cheery conversation. After all, for some of these people you might be the only person they see all day. Think about that for a second will you? I don’t know about you all but for me that thought helped me to keep a big smile on my face while greeting the recipients. If I was only going to see one person all day I for sure would want it to be a smiling, happy person!

 

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Have I mentioned I “saved” a newborn kitten on my venture with meals on wheels? No? Well, no biggie. I save newborn animals all of the time. Okay, maybe this is the first but I was pretty excited to be able to help the little kitty out. Long story short, the poor thing had fallen out of its kitty house and was lying abandoned on the porch. I simply picked it up and returned it to its mother and siblings. When helping with meals on wheels things like this are likely to happen on a much larger scale every once in a while. For instance, there have been times when a meal recipient hasn’t responded to the knock at the door. After a call made by the volunteer back to the MIFA hub a family members is reached and goes for a visit. The family member finds that the senior has fallen and needs to go to the hospital.

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Thanks to the dedication of the meals on wheels program and their staff and volunteers, an even more serious issue has been avoided. As a volunteer for this program you are doing so much more than simply delivering food. You are delivering a smile and a “have a good day” to a person who might otherwise not hear it all day. You are also in a sense checking up on the individuals to make sure that they are okay. For some people, you might be delivering the only meal they will have that entire day. That one reason alone is enough to persuade me to return to MIFA in the future.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my social work skills and improve our community. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

Want to know more about Samantha? Check out her bio: http://volunteerodyssey.com/participants/#samantha-hicks
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Week 5, Day 1: Atina Rizk at MIFA Meals on Wheels

MIFA is dear to my heart because like every other child in Memphis at Thanksgiving, I have dutifully brought cans of creamed corn and lima beans to school to “put the GIVE back in Thanksgiving, y’all.” Even in law school, there was one day where you could bribe the professor to skip you if you brought canned goods to donate to MIFA (watch out though, professors tend to just keep asking you questions until you have nothing left but to actually answer the darn question; just thinking about it makes my palms sweaty). Despite years of donations of food though, I have never donated my time at MIFA. This is what it is like:

Many many meals soon to be on wheels.

Many many meals soon to be on wheels.

Upon my arrival at 9:30 am, I am instantly struck with how well organized and well prepared everyone is. There are about 32 routes for the day with numbered coolers and many of them have already been picked up for delivery. While I am getting squared away, other volunteers come pouring in to get their cargo. It’s nice to see so many like-minded people in one place. One woman brought her child to help her, which I think is just wonderful.

A kind gentleman named Rick helps me with some paperwork, makes sure that I am insured and have a valid driver’s license, and then explains what to do. Pretty simple. Follow the directions that include the names and addresses of those who need the meals and deliver. Each person gets a carton of milk, a chicken breast with a lovely curry sauce, steamed squash, mashed potatoes, bread, and my personal favorite, a ginger bread man!

Me and Rivers loading up (no comments about lifting with a rounded back, I was getting situated)

Rivers and I loading up (no comments about lifting with a rounded back, I was getting situated!)

Rivers Powers, who blogged here a few weeks ago, comes along to read the directions. It is definitely good to have someone with me because Memphis’ streets are a bit difficult to navigate. The route, lucky number 17, is generally efficient in taking me from house to house. Further proof that MIFA is well organized is that every recipient has her/his door open. They must be predicting what time we will arrive.

Empty coolers. Could have dumped them on Rivers. Wasted opportunity.

Empty coolers. Could have dumped them on Rivers. Wasted opportunity.

In less than an hour and a half, our coolers are empty. We have been invited into several homes to say hello or to put the food on a table because its difficult to balance the whole meal in one hand while moving with a cane or a walker. We are always greeted with smiles and thanked heartily.  Volunteering at MIFA is a pleasure and impacts so many people in such a short time, a truly satisfying experience.