The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Columbia County delivered 44,000 meals in 2021 relying heavily on volunteers after COVID-19 led to the closure of meals sites in 2020.
“We are very busy and have a very high need for volunteers,” ADRC Director Sue Lynch said. “Anyone can volunteer that wants to serve the community.”
Currently, an average of 170 meals are delivered every weekday prepared and delivered by volunteers.
The nutrition program and the transportation program are both vital to the community, Lynch said.
“Some of the people enrolled in the nutrition program cannot leave their homes, and all this has become more complicated with COVID-19, so these delivery drivers could be the only human contact they have all day,” Lynch said. “These people are looking for a friendly face to see Monday through Friday.”
The nutrition delivery program provides a daily check in for participants and peace of mind for the families who cannot visit their homebound family members, Lynch said.
“We have retired married couples that deliver meals and younger people who help in any way they can,” Lynch said. “The couples split the duties with one person driving and the other going into the delivery locations.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the congregation meal sites have been closed across the county, which is true about most sites across the state. Along with meal delivery, the department also offers meal pick-up for those who are able to drive.
On Wednesday morning, ADRC workers Steve Banks and Phil Rygiewicz packed meals for the day along with volunteer Courtney Eparvier who wrapped the meals before delivery at the ADRC office inside the Health and Human Services building, 111 E. Mullett St.
“It’s a lot of fun, you get to meet a lot of interesting people,” Rygiewicz said.
“Helping people is a great gig,” Banks said while packaging meals and checking his multiple lists. “With every stop its a little different. You learn to be flexible. Some people have trouble getting up to answer the door so you get to know the person and learn what works best for them.”
Lynch said she once went on the Pardeeville route.
“The interaction is brief, but great,” Lynch said. “The people you meet while delivering are very appreciative to see a friendly face and to able to talk to someone even if for a few moments.”
Eparvier has been volunteering at the ADRC for a few months.
“I just wanted to give back and this opportunity made that possible,” Eparvier said.
The ADRC has 28 volunteers who help prepare the meals, load the vans and deliver the vehicles as part of the nutrition program. The volunteers also help with the medical transport program the ADRC operates.
Lynch said the best way to become a volunteer is by calling the Columbia County ADRC office at 608-742-9233 and ask about becoming a volunteer.
Lynch said the ADRC runs background checks on potential volunteers but there are not many requirements for people interested in becoming volunteers.
“We talk with the volunteers and see what they are comfortable doing, which is not common for most volunteer opportunity,” Lynch said. “We work to figure out what is best for them and how they can help.”
Banks and Rygiewicz said the ADRC is a great place to volunteer and the people they deliver meals to are incredibly appreciative.