May 15

Linda LaSalle of Newton: Volunteer Home Delivered Meal Driver

Prior to the COVID19 pandemic, Linda LaSalle loved her work as a music therapist for older adults at Milton Hospital and in her private practice. When the shelter at home order went into effect, Linda’s music therapy was halted. During a period of quiet reflection, Linda realized that she needed a role to help her get through this challenging time and that role was to give. She loves driving and she loves the elderly so joining Springwell as a volunteer home delivered meals driver was the perfect fit.

Springwell, a local non-profit serving older adults and caregivers with in-home services and supports, provides daily meals for over 800 seniors in Belmont, Brookline, Newton, Waltham, Watertown, Wellesley, and Weston.

When COVID-19 hit, Springwell’s meal programs became an essential service for a vulnerable population. The Home Delivered Meals program faced challenges immediately when an employment service closed under the statewide emergency order in March. The organization quickly developed and deployed a volunteer driver recruitment program, and the response from people like Linda was swift.  Linda is among the more than 90 volunteers currently keeping the non-profit’s home-delivered meal program on the road. “It was about a three-week learning curve but with GPS and a printed map of Brookline, I now know the area really well. Of course, no traffic makes it easier,” notes Linda.

Linda shares that meal recipients are so happy to see their home delivered meals driver each day. “It lets them know that they are not forgotten and that someone is there.” As she got out of her car for one delivery, she felt the gift she was giving when she saw the individual smiling and waving from his balcony. “Sometimes it is challenging to maintain the fine line…it would be nice to engage more with each person, but physical distancing and a busy delivery route makes that not possible.”

Springwell and meal recipients are grateful for Linda and the other delivery drivers every day. While the volunteer driving program has had a robust response, the organization has an ongoing need to recruit the volunteers it will need to depend on for the foreseeable future. More information about the volunteer home-delivered meals initiative here, and Springwell’s other volunteer programs here.