Program delivers food, friendship
Archie and Sally Bedford are a welcome sight to many of De Soto's homebound seniors.
The couple visits about 10 homes each Monday to bring Meals on Wheels to elderly citizens in need.
"We feel like we're serving a good cause," Archie said. "I know that the people enjoy it very much. When we take the meals to them, we may be one of the only contacts they have all day."
Vicky Owens, volunteer coordinator with the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging, said the Meals on Wheels group was looking for several volunteers.
"We always need volunteers," she said. "But right now, we have a lot of snowbirds who are leaving for warmer climates. We always have routes available for substitutes in De Soto."
The Meals on Wheels program requires drivers to have a valid license and insurance, because drivers take their own vehicles.
The Bedfords said their weekly trip takes about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. The number of recipients varies, but all of them are older than 60 and have trouble getting out to eat at a cafe or buy groceries. If one resident is eligible, their spouse is automatically eligible even if they are younger than 60.
"We have faith-based organizations that deliver, corporate chains, neighborhood-specific groups. We have a variety of folks who love to volunteer," Owens said. "They always receive more than they give because they've been able to work with our seniors and develop a wonderful friendship with them."
De Soto's Meals on Wheels coordinator is Elvina Kroemer. The meals are cooked in Olathe and picked up by volunteers at the De Soto Multi-Service Center. There are about 600 meals delivered each day in Johnson County and 50 volunteers delivering them, but only 17 elderly citizens receive meals in De Soto at this time, Owens said.
The suggested donation is $2.50 for a meal, but no one is turned down because of inability to pay.
The Bedfords, a retired couple themselves, said they had no trouble finding time to do the Meals on Wheels volunteer work.
Archie, who served in the military during the Korean War, was pleased to take dinners to veterans and their spouses and widows. Usually, he's the one taking the dinners while Sally drives. A few times when Sally brought dinners instead, she noticed how much the seniors missed Archie.
"Often times it's widowed ladies and they really do enjoy that my husband brings the meals," she said. "It's not unusual for some little old lady to say, 'Where's that man?' It's just a hello, that's about it, but they like that."
Archie said the Meals on Wheels program gives him an audience for bad jokes. More seriously, he said it helped build rewarding friendships between volunteers and the recipients and helped the elderly citizens' families as well.
"It helps their children to know they have a nutritious meal every day," Archie said.