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?”
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.
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.
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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