Meals on Wheels injects warmth and caring into isolated, vulnerable lives

Posted at 4:30 AM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 12:31:05-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- Gerri Boost's retirement from nursing hasn't stopped her from saving lives. In her new role with Meals on Wheels, she and other volunteers deliver food every day to over 1,500 elderly, disabled and otherwise homebound customers in Greater Cincinnati. 

More than once, she's found a client in need of lifesaving help.

"About three weeks ago, a lady answered the door, and I said, 'Are you OK?'" she said. "And she went down. … I once found a fellow on the floor totally disoriented."

According to Eugene Rose, CEO of Warren County Community Services, such incidents aren't uncommon. Meals on Wheels' client base comprises some of the most vulnerable groups in society -- people who might not have the physical ability or the support system they need to seek help in times of crisis. 

"We probably have four to six incidents a month where we find something suspicious," Rose said. "Sadly, it happens often."

That's why volunteers such as Boost are so important. Every person who delivers with Meals on Wheels must see the client and obtain his or her signature, completing a simple welfare check in the process.

If something seems wrong, Boost said she doesn't hesitate to go into "emergency mode," call 911 and do her best to make sure they're taken care of. Most of the time, the client recovers.

Sometimes, they don't.

"Sometimes you find them and they're gone," she said. "That's not easy because you become attached. They become your family and I become their family."

But the knowledge of her clients' isolation and vulnerability -- many do not see their families or neighbors, giving volunteers such as Boost an added importance in their lives -- is what drives her to keep delivering. Helping people was her mission when she was working, and it's still her mission today. 

"This is where I'm supposed to be," she said. "For as long as I can be."

Meals on Wheels delivers over 400,000 meals each year, Rose said, and the program is always growing. For more information on the Warren County Meals on Wheels program, visit the website here.