In 2020, Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County was awarded a grant to launch the Visiting Volunteers Program. The goal was simple but profound: to alleviate isolation, loneliness, and depression among senior citizens while providing much-needed support for their caregivers. With this grant, the organization envisioned creating connections and friendships that would stand the test of time.
As the program was gaining momentum, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, posing a significant obstacle. Social distancing measures made in-person visits impossible, but the team at Meals on Wheels was insistent not to let this deter them. Instead, they pivoted, introducing phone conversations into the meal delivery process. This allowed volunteers to check in on clients, ensuring their well-being and providing a much-needed emotional lifeline during a period of extreme isolation.
In early 2021, as the world cautiously started its journey towards normalcy, Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County regrouped and recreated an implementation plan. The organization began pairing clients and volunteers based on shared interests. To prepare volunteers for this essential role, the Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County held comprehensive training sessions, equipping them with the skills necessary to be caring and empathetic companions. In late June of the same year, the Visiting Volunteers Program officially took flight. Currently, client and volunteer pairings meet at least a couple of times each month for about an hour, sometimes more, each meeting.
While the program currently focuses on in-home visits, there are exciting plans on the horizon. Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County intends to expand the program to include outings for those who are able, offering clients a chance to explore their community and create cherished memories.
With a mission to continue growing, the program’s success hinges on the availability of volunteers. While there is no shortage of interested clients, the organization is actively seeking more volunteers to step forward and make a meaningful difference in the lives of seniors.
To become a Visiting Volunteer, certain qualities are desired. Ideal volunteers possess:
- Genuine Interest: A heartfelt desire to assist seniors and adults in need
- Good Listening Skills: The ability to lend a caring ear
- Sincerity: A genuine and authentic approach to building relationships
- Patience: A vital attribute when providing companionship and support
- Acceptance: The ability to embrace people as they are
- Caring and Friendliness: A warm and compassionate demeanor
- Reliability: A commitment to consistently be there for their senior companions
- A Sense of Humor: A wonderful quality that can brighten even the darkest of days
The Visiting Volunteers Program by Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County is a testament to the power of human connection and the profound impact it can have on the lives of seniors and their caregivers. It stands as a beacon of hope, offering friendship, support, and a lifeline to those who need it most. As the program continues to flourish, it serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, compassion and companionship can prevail, bridging the gap between generations and fostering a stronger, more caring community. If you have the heart and qualities of an ideal visiting volunteer, consider joining this remarkable journey. Learn more about volunteer opportunities on our website or call (317) 776-7159.