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In Good Food, Good Deeds we bring in celebrity volunteers to experience a day in the life of a Meals On Wheels volunteer.  This week it was my turn to roll up my sleeves and pitch in, so I reported for duty promptly at 6 a.m. at the St. Vincent’s Meals On Wheels kitchens in LA.  When I asked why we had to start so early I was told that we had 4700 meals to get out!  I had no idea what I was in for.  And they do this every single day.

I was introduced to Sister Alice Marie Quinn, a true force of nature who runs the kitchen with humor and inexhaustible energy.  I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with that much magnetism, practical compassion, and generosity of spirit all in one charismatic package.  She told me that their motto was “Love Serves.”  But, at Meals On Wheels, love also slices and scoops, so I quickly got down to work.

I was bowled over by the incredible buzz of the place.  Everybody was running, helping one another, doing something!  And everyone was smiling!  I was told that they customize meals to meet dietary needs and personal tastes.  This was something I wasn’t expecting.  In an operation so huge, to take the time to get personal was inspiring.  But, as Sister Alice said, it’s important to give her clients food they enjoy. If they don’t want to eat it, they’re not going to get all the goodness that Sister Alice and her team work hard to make sure they get.

Next, I went with a wonderful man named Jim to bring the meals to the waiting seniors.  As we set off, he told me that he knows all of his clients very well.  “That’s the way it should be,” he said.  Often the meal delivery is the only regular interaction Meals on Wheels clients might have.

I was really moved by meeting all those terrific people, particularly by a man named Michael who was suffering from emphysema.  He told me that he had changed his diet and that Meals On Wheels was instrumental in this, providing fresh, healthy, balanced meals so that he can regain his strength.  He said that if it weren’t for Meals On Wheels, he probably wouldn’t be eating a lot.  I was deeply touched by his story, and shared my own personal story with him: my husband passed away almost 10 years ago from lung cancer, even though he hadn’t smoked in over 35 years.  I felt a true connection with Michael.  It was then that the full impact of what Meals On Wheels does hit me—it was providing food, yes, but most importantly it was sharing—sharing love, sharing life, sharing experience.

Please, I urge you to find out more about this incredible organization, and see what you can do to help, by contactin  www.mowaa.org for more information.

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