Olentangy Valley News

Local leaders see impact of Meals on Wheels

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Some of Delaware County's homebound seniors see only one person each day: the volunteer who brings them warm meals through the area Meals on Wheels program.

Last week, many of those seniors had a new visitor.

Elected officials from the city of Delaware, Liberty Township, Sunbury, Ashley, Ostrander and others rode along with volunteers to meet with residents and raise awareness for the cause.

The Delaware County Council for Older Adults invited local mayors and other officials to participate in the Mayors for Meals event March 20. The national event is held annually.

Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan participated this year. She helped deliver meals to about 15 residents.

She said she hopes the event will bring awareness to the Meals on Wheels program.

"I think a lot of people would be willing to sign up and volunteer if they knew how easy and fun it is," Leneghan said. "I got to go out and meet all these people that live in the township. They're really sweet and they're so appreciative.

"Being a volunteer really is a blessing to you," she added.

Each official spent about an hour and a half riding along with a volunteer and delivering the meals to homebound residents who qualify to participate in the program.

Leneghan said she enjoyed the experience so much she wants to find more time to volunteer with the program in the future.

The other 15 participants this year were: Delaware County commissioners Gary Merrell and Dennis Stapleton; Delaware Mayor Gary Milner; Delaware City Councilwoman Carolyn Riggle; Westerville Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi; Ostrander Mayor Larry R. Crile; Galena Mayor Thomas Hopper; Shawnee Hills Mayor Patrick Monahan; Ashley Mayor Jim Nelson; Delaware Area Transit Agency Director Dennis Schooley; Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin; Delaware County Treasurer Jon Peterson; Orange Township Trustee Lisa Knapp; and Ohio Department of Aging Director Bonnie Kantor-Burman.

Council for Older Adults Director Bob Horrocks said it's an opportunity for local representatives to get a behind-the-scenes look at the program.

"They get to see how the program works and how their tax dollars are being spent," Horrocks said.

For seniors who lack support, Horrocks added: "Having the mayor come up and say 'hello' is a big deal for some of them."

Meals on Wheels in Delaware County is funded largely by the local senior services levy. Last year, it served nearly 188,000 meals, both directly to homebound adults and at area dining centers.

Horrocks said the program is a prime example of why voters should renew the levy when it appears on the ballot May 7.

The Council for Older Adults is asking voters to approve a five-year, 1.2-mill levy to replace a 0.9-mill levy that expires at the end of the year.

If passed, it would cost Delaware County homeowners about $37 annually per $100,000 in property value, starting in 2014.

The funds would help the council continue to provide area senior citizens with in-home care, including warm-meal deliveries, medical transportation and adult daycare.

Officials said the proposed 0.3-mill increase is needed to fund services for area seniors, since the county has experienced explosive growth in the past five years.

They said the proposed increase in millage is needed simply to maintain current levels of service and won't fund any new programs.

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