Karen Githens arrives at the Sheridan Senior Center around 11:15 in the morning to find bags of hot meals waiting for her.
Githens is a volunteer for the center's Home Delivered Meals program. For the next hour or so, she will drive to various homes on her route, dropping off fresh, hot meals, sometimes staying to visit a little while with the meals' recipients. She said some people like to visit; others don't. She is one of more than 200 people involved in the senior center program. Program Coordinator Shirley Knisley says it takes a lot of volunteers for the program to succeed.
There are 13 routes, and meals are delivered seven days a week. Volunteers may choose to deliver meals one or two days a week, or all seven.
Recipients of the meals also may choose to have meals delivered every day, or for only a few days of the week. Githens said some choose simply to call the senior center, in advance, to have a meal delivered to their home. The program coordinator and kitchen staff start packaging meals around 9:30 in the morning to have them ready for the volunteer drivers.
Meals are tailored to the individual's needs. Labels with the recipient's name and any special instructions – such as “diabetic” or “low-salt” – are attached to each meal. Most meals come with a container of milk, but some other drink will be substituted for those who don't like milk, or can't tolerate he beverage.
The program is available to anyone who could use a hot, home-delivered meal. Some of the recipients have been receiving home-delivered meals since the program began 10 or 11 years ago. Others may be home-bound, temporarily, because of illness, injury or surgery. Individuals don't have to be senior citizens to qualify for the service.
Anyone who is interested in the Home Delivered Meals program can make arrangements by calling the center. The number is 672-6079.