May 1

A Year of Volunteer Meal Deliveries

woman in apartment building lobby delivering meals to older adults

Springwell’s Home Delivered Meals program faced severe staffing challenges when employment programs closed under the emergency order in March 2020. People like Eugenie Coakley swiftly answered Springwell’s call for volunteer drivers one year ago and have kept the home-delivered meal program on the road ever since.

We asked Eugenie about her experiences. “People always appreciate the delicious meals. In addition to providing a welcome meal, I try to make the delivery a bright spot in each person’s day. Meal recipients, just like most of us during COVID, have their ups and downs as they cope with isolation and circumstances. I learned to roll with the moods and understand that some days people want to chat and others they just want to thank me for the meal and retreat into their home to enjoy it. I adjust my interaction according to their needs.”

Whenever a new meal recipient is added to her route, Eugenie is starting a new relationship. “I noticed that often when someone began receiving meals after a hospitalization or acute illness, it was a new type of isolation for them. As time went on, they trusted the program and I could see that they were getting better and feeling stronger as the days and weeks went by.”

Language barriers and social distancing sometimes impede relationship building but Eugenie discovered that there is always a universal way to express gratitude. One day in December after leaving one home and heading to the next, she heard someone calling her. She turned around and a younger woman was motioning her to come back. Eugenie walked back and the woman pointed to an upstairs window. “As I looked up at the window, the curtain was pulled back and an older woman, the meal recipient, was waving to me. The younger woman then handed me a beautiful red greeting card with a symbol for happiness. I was deeply touched and put my hands to my heart to thank them. The woman in the window also put her hands to her heart.”

Eugenie enjoys her volunteer work with Springwell. In 2021, she is expanding her role by also becoming a volunteer shopping assistant. “I feel like I am making a difference and the role of shopping assistant is flexible in terms of when I do the shopping. I like volunteering with Springwell because the programs are well structured. The details and logistics of the home delivered meals program is like a ballet every day. The caterer arrives on time; the volunteers arrive on time; the meals are packed and delivered in a timely fashion to each recipient.”

If you would like to join Springwell as a volunteer, learn more about the opportunities here or call us at (617) 926-4100.