It is the mission of Meals on Wheels West to provide nourishment to homebound individuals in the local community through delivering healthy meals and creating meaningful relationships. Chris Baca, the Executive Director at Meals on Wheels West, explains that the organization could not exist without its dedicated volunteer team. The volunteers get special training on how to deliver meals. Another group of volunteers makes Phone Reassurance calls conducting a Wellness Check after the delivery twice a week.
All the meals are nutritious, made fresh, low in sugar and sodium, medically appropriate, endorsed by a Los Angeles County certified dietitian, and delivered right to the client’s door. Meals are delivered Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They are picked up at the Meals on Wheels West office on Michigan Avenue, east of 17th Street, in Santa Monica. Delivery volunteers can help out once a week, once a month, or on a quarterly basis. Clients might be in transitional housing, veterans, affected by disabilities, or advanced in age. Most of the clients live alone – more than 60%, in fact.
So, the clients are often thankful just to have a listening ear, someone who visits to share news of the client’s day. Chris says that what volunteers enjoy most is seeing clients’ lives improved for the better. Volunteers can be college age, retired, or anywhere in between. Some volunteers give clients extra support, like driving them to a medical appointment. With MOW West's assistance, all the delivery volunteers got vaccinated early, which made it possible for them to deliver more than 200,000 meals last year. The 225 phone reassurance volunteers made 25,000 calls during the pandemic.
The volunteer team grew by 60% during the pandemic, expanding from 29 delivery routes to 43. Of the 43 routes, 30 are located in Santa Monica, with the rest in Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu. Some long-time volunteers have enjoyed participating for more than 20 years. To become a volunteer, people can sign-up on the Meals on Wheels West website at MealsonWheelsWest.org, or contact the volunteer coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the main phone number 310-394-5133 and select extension 2.
By Bob Rich