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Volunteer Elliot Sherman (left) and client Bud Baril (right). Photos by Mary Huang.

Meals on Wheels: Community helping community

By Mary Huang on September 21, 2016

Post by Mary Huang

mow-logoKeeping seniors at home independently and healthy can be a challenge. For the first time ever, there are now more people in Canada age 65 and over than there are under age 15. So how can we support seniors to live independently? For starters, we can provide them with healthy meals and a caring daily visit from a volunteer. Meals on Wheels – La Popote roulante in Ottawa has been serving the central Ottawa region for nearly 50 years and plays a crucial role in supporting seniors stay home longer.

Take Bud Baril for instance. At 90 years old, Bud has been a client with Meals on Wheels for nearly 12 years. He credits the daily meals he receives for keeping him mobile and healthy, noting in particular their contribution to keeping his diabetes under control. Bud has an infectious love for life and enjoys feeling connected with his community. Whether it be through interactions with volunteers, frequenting his favourite restaurant, or visiting his morning coffee club, Bud works to foster lasting relationships with the community around him.

Bud Baril with a model of the North American Harvard training aircraft he used as flying instructor in the RCAF.

Bud Baril with a model of the North American Harvard training aircraft he used as flying instructor in the RCAF.

At one point, Bud was as a flying instructor for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He often had access to a well-organized officers’ mess hall so really did not have much opportunity or need for cooking. Now Bud does some cooking for himself on weekends. He enjoys preparing a simple meal of fish, potato and canned peas but relies on the volunteers who deliver to him during the week and support him to live independently.

“I appreciate having reached my 90th year and am grateful for your love and kindness in bringing me a hot, healthful meal 5 days a week and on Christmas Day. You have played a large role in keeping me healthy and mobile and I must tell you how grateful I am to you that I still wake up every morning. It’s a miracle.” – Bud Baril

Grateful for the support he receives, Bud pays it forward by helping others. He usually travels with bus tickets and a Tim Hortons gift card and gives them to people in need. Bud feels that he has been very fortunate in his own life, and so likes to support others in the community.

One of Bud’s long-time delivery volunteers is Elliot Sherman. Elliot has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for three years and currently delivers hot meals three days a week to clients in the Vanier area. When asked what first attracted him to volunteer, Elliot mentions right away his desire to have a direct and positive impact on seniors in his neighbourhood. Delivering meals was a perfect fit.

Elliot feels strongly about helping others, especially the elderly. He finds it rewarding to talk to the people he brings the meals to and they have built up relationships over time. He notes that many of the clients he visits, including Bud, are very happy to see a friendly face along with the hot meal. Most are quite optimistic and happy despite the health problems and other conditions they may struggle with. For Elliot, it helps put things in perspective and see his own problems as smaller by comparison.

Elliot believes the hot meal delivery is especially helpful to frail clients with mobility issues. For others, it may be the inability to use their stovetops, oven or even microwave safely that impedes them from cooking independently. The service provides comfort and security, especially to its isolated clients, and to family members who know that someone is checking in on their loved one.

Elliot is one of almost 500 Meals on Wheels volunteers who collectively donate around 2,000 hours of their time and deliver over 10,000 hot and frozen meals each month in Ottawa. Bud receives his hot meal from the Centre D’Accueil Champlain in Vanier, one of 8 provider kitchens across the city. A weekly delivery of frozen meals is also available with two frozen food providers.

There are over 1,600 clients like Bud who benefit from the Meals on Wheels service. In 2015, the program delivered: 67,941 hot meals, 42,938 frozen meals, 11,274 meals for the Going Home Program as well as 112 on Christmas Day. A total of 122,265 meals!

To request meal service or to support this valuable service in central Ottawa by volunteering or making a donation call 613-233-2424 or visit the Meals on Wheels website.

Mary Huang has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels – La Popote roulante in Ottawa since March 2016 delivery meals 2-3 times a month and her parents have been clients of Meals on Wheels services.