Every other Sunday, Gahanna volunteers Dan and Linda Marvin offer expressions of friendship in addition to the food they deliver on their Meals-on-Wheels route in Westerville for LifeCare Alliance.
LifeCare Alliance, a nonprofit organization, provides a comprehensive array of health and nutrition services to older adults and chronically ill or homebound residents of central Ohio.
"I did this originally to help somebody," Dan Marvin said. "I didn't know I would be helping myself. It's the most rewarding thing I've done in my life."
The retired Whitehall paramedic said it's hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction he gets from helping others through the program.
"This is so rewarding," he said. "You see the results of what you're doing. If LifeCare Alliance would come to me and say, 'We're going to have to charge you to do this,' I'd say, 'Tell me how much and I'll write you a check.'"
The couple first learned about LifeCare, central Ohio's first in-home health-care agency, from a booth at an auto show in 1993.
"We signed up, and they accommodated what we wanted to do," Linda Marvin said. "They set us up with a route on the east side of town. They sent an experienced volunteer with us, and we were hooked right away."
She likened the volunteer work to a form of church because it provides regular fellowship.
"We have a couple of senior buildings we deliver to," she said. "We see people on the way, and they're used to seeing us as well. Sometimes we talk about it as a form of church. There's fellowship in talking to the older folks. We have such wonderful people on our route."
She recalled a late client named Mary, who enjoying sharing and talking with them.
"We'd sit with her at the end of a route and talk to her," Linda Marvin said. "She was sharp as a tack. She talked sports and politics. She was older with a physical disability. She was aware of what was going on in the world. She was fascinating."
Mary liked peach pie, Marvin said, but Meals-on-Wheels doesn't offer that dessert.
"One day we went and got her a peach pie," she said. "We also would take her garbage out for her. It makes us feel good to do those extra things they might need."
She said Meals-on-Wheels is about so much more than delivering food.
"They like to see you, and you may be the only person they see that day," she said. "They become part of your life, and they especially look forward to seeing you."
She said she feels good about helping LifeCare with her time and money because it's a "top-notch organization."
Michelle Jones, LifeCare communications director, said volunteers are the life blood of the organization.
"We don't turn anyone away for basic-needs services," she said. "We can't survive without the volunteers."
Currently, more than 7,000 volunteers, including 207 from Gahanna, assist with signature programs: Meals-on-Wheels, senior dining centers, wellness centers, Help-at-Home, Visiting Nurses, Columbus Cancer Clinic, Project OpenHand-Columbus and Groceries-to-Go.
"We're constantly recruiting," Jones said. "The west side always seems to be one of the harder areas to fill routes. We have 115 routes that go out Monday through Friday."
LifeCare Alliance has a total of 15,000 clients, she said.
LifeCare prepares 6,000 meals daily, including 2,000 home-delivered meals.
To learn more about LifeCare Alliance, visit lifecarealliance.org or, to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.