The Power of Compassion

The Power of Compassion

Mr. Charles Wheeler, a long time Meals on Wheels client in Tool, Texas, celebrated a special birthday recently with his family and Meals on Wheels friends.

An Air Force Veteran who served in the Korean War, Mr. Wheeler has won over the hearts of Assistant Case Manager Lisa Babb and Tool Site Manager Michelle King.

Mr. Wheeler will let you know what is wrong with the world these days; I wish HE could run for president. He keeps me informed and laughing!

Michelle King, Tool Site Manager

On October 19, Mr. Wheeler’s 96th birthday, Michelle and Lisa, his local Meals on Wheels volunteers who deliver his meals, and two neighbors gathered to throw him a surprise party. They came bearing gifts including a new Air Force Veteran hat, blanket, and, of course, birthday cake.

Assistant Case Manager Lisa Babb with Mr. Wheeler
Tool Site Manager Michelle King helps unwrap a gift

Michelle said, “Mr. Wheeler was sitting at his kitchen table wearing his brand new glasses and reading a Western novel his daughter picked up for him at the library when we walked in. He was so surprised!”.

Michelle has grown quite fond of Mr. Wheeler; their bond is as special to her as it is to him.

Mr. Wheeler is the highlight of my delivery day! I sure do love him. I hope he lives to be 125!

Site Manager Michelle King

It is encounters like these, human to human, where the real blessing of our work happens. The meal is the mechanism of support; the people have the power to change lives simply by showing up in a spirit of compassion, love, and friendship.

Not surprisingly, research continues to show the immense value and impact of social interactions on older adults’ health as they age.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion with the United States Department of Health and Human Services reports:

Social and community context, which involves our interactions with family, friends, and others in the community, has a significant impact on our quality of life. And social cohesion — strong relationships and a sense of solidarity within a group — can positively affect health: People who have strong social connections have a lower risk of health conditions like heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression. They’re also better able to cope with stress and the challenges of daily life. But about 1 in 4 community-dwelling older adults in the United States is socially isolated, which can negatively affect their health and well-being.

Office of disease prevention and health promotion

The tagline we often use here at Meals on Wheels is “more than a meal,” and this is where we have the opportunity to truly change someone’s life. Yes, food is vitally important! But after 50 years of serving in East Texas and seeing the illuminating research from Meals on Wheels America, we know that the social encounter that our knock at the door brings is as important as the food provided.

Miranda Asmussen, Marketing and Public Relations Director, says “It’s rare to have a day go by where don’t receive a phone call or a thank-you card in the mail from a client to let us know specifically how much their volunteer or driver’s visit means to them; it’s not the food we get thanked for…it’s the people.”

Client thank-you cards and phone calls come in frequently.

Thank you all so much for what you do. I appreciate all of you. I have the BEST volunteers ever; they bring sunshine to my day each time they come. Thanks again for caring about me.

– Deborah, Tyler

At the end of the day, it is the human to human connection that makes the difference. We are honored to have been in the ministry of loving our neighbors for 50 years…and counting. Whether it is that knock at the door during the week, a surprise birthday party, or a voice on the other end of the phone to check in, this is the “more than a meal” we are committed to.

There’s no better time than the holidays to get involved with our ministry and help us fulfill our mission. Our Santas for Seniors gift drive kicks off Monday, November 6 and runs through the end of the month. We have a list of drop off locations all over East Texas on the Santas for Seniors page right here on our website. Or you can call our office for more information on how to get involved by hosting a box at your place of business or church, joining us for gift packing parties, and more. (903)593-7385