Meals On Wheels - Providing Nutrition to the Needy
By Bill Johnson / January - February 2012

After a series of surgeries that greatly limited her mobility, Judith Doxsley is confined to her home in Coral Springs. Sitting in her living room, she says, "For three years, I've been living in this chair. Pat has become my window to the world. She brings the world to me. I have no one else."

Pat is Pat Glick of Coral Springs -- a volunteer with Broward Meals on Wheels. And Doxsley voices effusive praise for Glick and the service she provides, "Her personality lights up the room."

Although Doxsley can't get out of the house, she can count on Glick or another volunteer to arrive each Monday morning with a package of ten frozen meals -- five breakfasts and five dinners. But Glick does more than deliver food. She periodically goes grocery shopping for Doxsley to pick up additional items. She brings her fliers, coupons and sales information before heading for the market. Doxsley says, "The program has made me stronger."
She is one of six or seven shut-ins on Glick's route. One is an 89-year-old man who is alone.

Another is Zacharias Corkinas, who is always waiting at his Margate door for Glick with a cheerful greeting and affable banter. A former hairdresser and merchant marine, Corkinas also lives alone and doesn't have a car. "While recuperating from surgery, I would have been lost without the meals," he says.

He particularly likes the breaded veal or chicken and "adores" the frozen juices, which he eats frozen "as a nice treat."

Glick is among 280 volunteers who dedicate a few hours one day a week to deliver the frozen meals that are planned by nutritionists; they can be heated in the oven. "Rain or sleet, they're out there," says Marlene Gray, the director of program services for Broward Meals on Wheels. "They are dedicated volunteers."

But there are never enough of them. Gray constantly struggles to recruit volunteers because the agency must pay the catering service to deliver to individual homes, if a volunteer is unavailable. Volunteers help keep the costs down. Prospective volunteers are subject to a background check.

The meals program is financed with federal funds through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Broward County. Currently, approximately 1,300 people receive the meals. To be eligible, they must be at least 60 years old and unable to effectively shop for themselves. Although there is no direct cost to them, meal recipients are asked to donate to help defray costs.

This is only one of the nutrition programs operated by Broward Meals on Wheels. The agency has more than 30 congregate meal sites where hot meals are served, and people can enjoy conversation and socialization.

Because pets are beneficial companions, pet food can be delivered for companion pets. There is also a more extensive meals package available for a fee. Called Complete Cuisine, it involves a choice of menu items.

Volunteers like Glick are necessary for the programs to succeed. She left an insurance career in Connecticut, where she knew a neighbor who benefited from Meals on Wheels. "I decided then that, when I retired, I would do this kind of volunteer work," says Glick, who started in September of 2010.

Every Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m., you will find her with a group of volunteers at a Coral Springs church parking lot, waiting for a delivery truck to drop off meals for their routes. "It gives me joy," she says. "And they (the recipients) give me joy in return."
Bill Johnson is a freelance writer living in Coconut Creek.

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