San Juan Islands Meals On Wheels Deliveries Triple During Pandemic As More Volunteers Help
From the Mullis Community Senior Center
Throughout the month of March, resident celebrities from Lopez, San Juan and Orcas Islands were invited to ride or follow along with volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers as they delivered meals to seniors on their respective islands.
The goal of the celebrity ride-alongs was to foster greater community awareness about the San Juan County Senior Nutrition Program, including the impact it has on the hundreds of older adults served by the program.
Celebrity drivers included:
- San Juan Island: Greg Ford, owner of Mi Casita Restaurant; Christine Minney, San Juan County Council Member; Norvin Collins, San Juan Island Fire Chief
- Lopez Island: Jamie Stephens, San Juan County Council Member; Christa Campbell, former Lopez Chamber of Commerce Director; Adam Bigby, Lopez Island Fire Chief
- Orcas Island: Lance Evans, executive director of Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce; Cindy Wolf, San Juan County Council Member
The Meals on Wheels experience was a positive one for everyone involved.
“Having the opportunity to ride along as a volunteer delivering for Meals on Wheels was enlightening,” said Minney. “The amount of care, cost and commitment is evident. The appreciation of the recipients made me extra grateful for the experience.”
The celebrity ride-along was coordinated by San Juan County senior services specialists at the Lopez Island Mullis and Orcas Senior Centers.
These San Juan County Health and Community Services employees are responsible for coordinating the Meals and Wheels clients and deliveries, which have tripled in number during the pandemic.
They also coordinate approximately 50 dedicated volunteers who help with meal prep, clean-up, deliveries, and administration.
“Our San Juan County partners have contributed a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure that all homebound and self-isolating seniors receive the meals and other services they need throughout the pandemic,” said Julie Meyers, Meals on Wheels and More director for the Whatcom Council on Aging. “They are the glue that holds the Senior Nutrition Program together.”
The San Juan County Senior Nutrition Program provides home-delivered “Meals on Wheels” and Senior Community Meals (currently on hold due to the pandemic) to older adults on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands.
The Meals on Wheels and More program is administered by the non-profit Whatcom Council on Aging in partnership with San Juan County Health and Community Services and the senior centers on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan, which operate under the umbrella of the Senior Services Council of San Juan County 501(c)(3).
The program is partially funded through federal grants, San Juan County levy funding, senior center in-kind contributions (utilities, fuel, kitchen equipment, etc.), and client donations. The program also relies heavily on private donations and fundraising.