READING, Pa. - The delivery routes may be quick, but the impact of Berks Encore's Meals on Wheels program is long-lasting, providing daily meals for some of the county's most vulnerable elderly.
"It's a very nice convenience, it is," said recipient Peggy Jane Swanier of Reading. "Most of us appreciate it very much that we get these meals."
Swanier, having suffered a serious stroke, can no longer cook for herself. That's where Meals on Wheels volunteers come in to lend a hand, delivering one hot and one cold meal for her and many others each day.
But now, according to Berks Encore president LuAnn Oatman, the program itself is in need of help, particularly in Reading.
"We have an increased need for volunteers, specifically in the Center City Reading area," said Oatman. "[When] people hear city of Reading, they get a little fearful."
But, she said, it's an unnecessary fear, noting that current volunteers grow attached to their delivery routes, which take about 1-2 hours of travel each day.
"When volunteers do begin doing a route, they get attached to the people they're delivering to… they look forward to seeing them and I'm telling you, it's an amazing experience," said Oatman.
Such is the case for longtime volunteer John McAndrews, who got involved in the program following retirement.
69 News followed McAndrews on a delivery route, and asked him to explain how the program has been rewarding.
"The camaraderie that you get with the people you work with and also the appreciation. And just the joy of helping the people out," he said.
"You feel very uplifted… when they come," said Swanier. "[There are] a lot of us senior citizens… we really need them," said Swanier.
Anyone interested in picking up a route, as either a volunteer driver or deliverer, should contact the Meals on Wheels program at 610-374-3195.
Allentown, PA 18102
- News Tom Pennington/Getty Images