HAMPTON, Va. –
Volunteers have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of their local community. Service members at Joint Base Langley-Eustis have embodied this belief and continuously find opportunities to get involved.
Airmen and Soldiers from various units throughout JBLE meet weekly at Ivy Memorial Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia, to participate in the Peninsula Agency on Aging Meals on Wheels Program.
“Meals on Wheels” is often used generically to refer to the home-delivered meals program, which is geared towards promoting better health, improving nutrition and reducing isolation and loneliness that impacts home-bound senior citizens.
With limited or no access to families, friends, or proper nutrition, the daily meal delivery not only provides seniors with a nutritious meal but also a daily safety check by the volunteers.
Over 280 homes are delivered meals up to three times a day by Meals on Wheels volunteers, with JBLE volunteers responsible for 32 of those 280 homes.
According to Gerald J. Patesel, Peninsula Agency of Aging director of community services, having JBLE volunteers has been extremely beneficial to the program.
“It is a win for everyone,” said Patesel. “Volunteers from JBLE joined the program because they wanted to give back to their community and their efforts allow the program to meet the needs of seniors throughout the community.”
According to Patesel, clients love to see someone in uniform, it makes them feel safe especially when they see them walking in the door.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Amy Lynch, Heritage of America Band regional band craftsman, has been a volunteer for the past three years and knows all of her clients personally.
“It’s more than just a short visit,” said Lynch. “You might be the only person they interact with that day. It’s an opportunity to gain a perspective on what daily life is like for some people in the community.”
Lynch has had nothing but a positive experience, and noted she always looks forward to her route.
The effort that service members, like Lynch, put forth in supporting this program helps show the seniors that there are people within the community that care about them.
Eunice Tuten, a Meals on Wheels recipient, who has been a resident of Hampton for the past 50 years discovered the program last year.
“The first time I heard about this program, I was at a shopping center in Hampton with my daughter,” said Tuten. “We over heard two Airmen talking about Meals On Wheels, and ever since that day I’ve been receiving free meals daily.”
Tuten also expressed how much she loves the program and interacting with volunteers.
“All I can say is it's a blessing to receive hot meals from different people, especially from the Airman from Langley,” said Tuten. “I always enjoy talking with them.”
In addition, Patesel said at times many of their clients are waiting by the door and for some of them it’s the biggest event of the day.
“At the end of the day, there’s a personal satisfactions to know you’ve helped thousands of seniors feel at ease and appreciated,” said Patesel.
For more information on volunteering for Meals on Wheels, contact the Peninsula Agency on Aging office at 757-873-0541.