It started out as a one-year commitment — and then another — and then another. Over thirty years later, Orville and Betty Brown are still on the move, supporting KYC’s Home Delivered Meals program. In a recent interview, the couple shared some of their stories, experiences, and insights they’ve gained together as some of KYC’s longest-standing volunteers. The pair first agreed to volunteer in October of 1987, and they still don’t have an end to their volunteerism in sight.
The Browns had personal connections through their parents to meal delivery programs. Betty’s mother had received meals, and Orville’s had delivered them. They say this is what keeps them coming back to volunteer — as Betty put it, “we can’t pay [our parents] back, but we can pay it forward.” They knew the impact this kind of program could have on the lives of those receiving meals, and through their experiences, they know first-hand how rewarding it can be to do the delivering.
About the Home Delivered Meals Program
KYC supports several meal delivery routes, bringing nutritious meals to older adults who face challenges preparing their own meals. Meals are delivered five days a week, Monday through Friday, on noon-time routes that are covered by a rotating set of volunteers. Orville and Betty share the longest route, delivering meals together, one day a week. Every Monday, they deliver 8 — 12 meals in about an hour. They don’t have an official tally of how many meals they’ve delivered in their careers, but they’re conservatively 15,000 meal professionals. The Browns understand that the meals they deliver are important, but they also know that their arrival each Monday brings much more than just a balanced plate.
For every question we asked the Browns about the Meals program, they translated the logistics of how the program operates into stories about how this program impacts the people that it supports. They get to know the people that they serve, and truly care for them. In addition to the meals themselves, Orville and Betty are able to provide companionship to people who may have difficulty getting out of the house. They safeguard the wellbeing of people who have unreliable health by checking in with them regularly. These critical gifts can be life-saving to the seniors and families they serve, and the Browns are happy to give.
What it Means to Volunteer
Orville and Betty say that their favorite part of this program is seeing the joy that it brings. While their route generally serves the same people from one week to the next, over the course of their impressive volunteer tenure, they have seen many meals recipients join and leave the program. They noted that it can be sad to lose touch with the people they have grown to know through their service. But, they’ve also had thousands of opportunities to bring joy to people who need and appreciate it.
The Home Delivered Meals program is currently seeking additional volunteers to help fill routes or to step in as substitute drivers. A commitment of one hour per week can change the lives of the people this program supports, and can be a truly rewarding volunteer experience. If you are interested in becoming a part of this essential program, please contact KYC at 847−524−8800.
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