by Bill Batson
Meals on Wheels delivers. For people who cannot shop or cook because of illness, physical disability or advanced age, their service fleet is a lifeline. For those who can travel, but need a destination for social and recreational activity, MOW operates five senior center in Rockland County. Granting independence for individuals and support for fragile families, MOW provides more than just the safety net, but the tent and a team of acrobats who bend over backwards to care for seniors. I should know. My mother attends their daily program at 90 Depew Avenue in Nyack.
On July 23, 2014 Meals on Wheels Programs & Services of Rockland delivered their 9 millionth meal. The milestone accomplished during their 40th anniversary, commemorates not only millions of meals served, but millions of human connections and safety checks.
When that momentous meal was served, Jo Lore, the current director of the MOW Nyack was winding down her 48 year career in the banking industry. Many people in Nyack know Jo from her work with non-profits including the YMCA, Rotary, American Cancer Society, and United Way.
Meals on Wheels Director and Village of Nyack Mayor Dr. Don Hammond asked Jo to take a “part-time” manager after her retirement. “Initially, I was meant to work part-time ” Jo said. “Meals on Wheels is, in my opinion, one of those organizations that best addresses the needs of our elderly population in our County.” Apparently, there is no such thing as a part-time job for a person passionate about helping others. Jo is now the full-time manager, arriving early and staying late. “Having the opportunity for me to give back every day for our seniors in Nyack is a privilege and an honor.”
“Many of our members live alone and do not have family members always available to provide them with assistance and companionship….that is what our five centers provide,” said Lore. “We are a place they can come to for a friendly smile, a hug, a hot meal, the company of other seniors, games, field trips, exercise, and to learn about health, nutrition, and safety at home. When you see our vehicle on the road, it may be dropping off a meal, or it could be picking up a senior to come here!”
At 90, my mother needs the structure of a place to go to on a regular basis and the stimulation that social interaction provides. During the last year she has sharpened her watercolor and dancing skills, made legions of friends and gone for day trips. Her health and well-being is buoyed by the program that asks for a modest donation of a few dollars for daily meals and snacks. Food is also available for those who can’t afford to pay.
For Lore, “the toughest part of my job is living in a community like Rockland County and not having the resources available to support ALL the needs of our seniors to live independently. Although, Rockland County residents are very supportive of our non-for-profit organizations, we always have room to do more. We all need to continue and expand our programs for seniors. And we hope the public will continue supporting organizations like Meals on Wheels, through donations and volunteering.”
The senior population of Rockland County is facing a litany of challenges, according to Lore, that dull the luster of what should be their “Golden Years”.
- Limited access to inexpensive dental and vision care
- Seniors who did not grow up in a digital age need access to computers
- Addressing the loneliness of Seniors without family members
- Access to social programs without payment
- Need for homeless shelters
- Easier, more frequent and inexpensive transportation throughout the County.
“Joining our senior centers is easy as 1.2.3,” said Lore. “All you need to be is over 60 years old, able to function independently, and a resident of Rockland County.”
Day care is no longer just for children. Our aging population needs more programs like Meals on Wheels and champions like Hammond and Lore. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, the senior programs you save may some day be your own.
The Meals of Wheels Nyack Senior Activity Center as well as their other four Centers in Rockland County with other various programs are funded in part by the Administration on Aging , New York State Office for the Aging, Rockland County Office for the Aging, donations, grants and fees.
To volunteer click here.
Join me on Oct. 6 for the first Nyack Sketch Log Walking Tour. The 2-hour trek through the village includes 2 museum visits (Edward Hopper and Historical Society) and a $5 donation to the Historical Society of the Nyacks. You can buy tickets at nyacksketchlogtour.brownpapertickets.com, my Nyack Farmer’s Market booth or meet me at 11a and 2p at 23 Main St. on Oct. 6.
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Meals on Wheels“ © 2018 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com