Let’s Pay It Forward Together

Pay it Forward Day is where it is today because of an amazing group of volunteers around the world who continue to be an inspire countless individuals.

Investing Time

As we can all agree, time is a precious resource, and there often doesn’t seem to be enough of it. But the truth is, how you invest the minutes and hours you’ve been given demonstrates what’s most important to you.

We rise by lifting others.”    ~Robert Ingersoll

About the Day

There is tremendous power and positive energy in giving – it is a shame that not enough people have experienced it to the fullest. Pay It Forward Day is about all people, from all walks of life, giving to someone else and making a positive difference.

The last Friday in April marks International Pay It Forward Day, a celebration of altruism and the good of humanity. In 2015, people from 75 countries participated in Pay it Forward Day inspiring more than 5 million acts of kindness to date. This year marks the movement’s 10 year anniversary with a goal to hit 10 million random acts.

The practice involves regular people performing acts of kindness for others without expecting anything in return. Instead, they will pay it forward and do the same for someone else to create a ripple effect of generosity. The global phenomenon has inspired over 50 state and city proclamations for the day in the United States alone.

Be the change you want to see in the world.”  ~Ghandi

So Why Pay it Forward?

  • To encourage all of us to embrace the incredible power of giving.
  • To show each other that we care and that there is love, hope, and magic all around us.
  • To know that we may be only one person in this world, but to one person, at one time, we are the world.

In honor of International Pay It Forward Day, we are proud to share with you below our continuing series focused on local, national and international nonprofits – each passionately committed to the “spirit of giving back and paying it forward” and each powered by an amazing group of community volunteers and supporters. 





How Can You Pay It Forward?

Make a difference and experience the true power of giving. Together we can change the world – one good deed at a time!

  • Reach out and support each of the nonprofits presented above however possible.
  • Share this powerful message across all of your social media channels – again and again.
  • Change your world by practicing Random Acts of Kindness today and every day.

 “If you have much, give your wealth; if you have little, give your heart.”

For or more information about International Pay It Forward Day and how you can get involved, visit IPIFD.


TECO and Meals on Wheels of Tampa (and you?): A powerful connection to help people in need

Meals on Wheels: Making the world a little better, one delivered meal at a time.

Meals on Wheels: Making the world a little better, one delivered meal at a time.

Wheels convey a sense of momentum, of course, and when you see them on vehicles in the community, it’s always at least two or more working together. With Meals on Wheels, TECO team members have a tremendous partnership, a unique opportunity for volunteerism and a vehicle with lots of horsepower – and even better, people power – for helping members of the community in need simply put food on their tables.

But it’s an effort that needs the help of more than just people at TECO: it needs you.

“Just as we couldn’t sit by while our elderly parents, grandparents or homebound neighbors went hungry, we can’t sit by when we know there are people out there right now – other peoples’ parents and neighbors – who lack the money or mobility to get their next meal and don’t have anyone in their lives who can help,” said Marshall Tucker, manager of Corporate Business Development with TECO and Meals on Wheels of Tampa board member. “Unfortunately, that situation is a reality for more and more people – which means the reality for those of us able to help is that we must.”

Marshall Tucker, manager of Corporate Business Development with TECO and Meals on Wheels of Tampa board member.

Marshall Tucker, manager of Corporate Business Development with TECO and Meals on Wheels of Tampa board member.

He added, “The typical person that Meals on Wheels helps is elderly and alone – in many cases, these are people who helped build this community when they were younger; now it’s our duty to give back to them with the simple act of providing them with a meal.”

A small amount of time – and a safely running car – can do so much to help you show you care

According to historical accounts, Tampa saw its first internal combustion-powered car in 1900 – a year after Tampa Electric began serving the community with safe, reliable electricity and five years after the start of the company that would become Peoples Gas. This mode of transportation, then, has been part of the community, just like us, for well over a century. And when Meals on Wheels first rolled into Tampa in 1975, the groundwork was in place for a partnership that endures to this day.

Unfortunately, hunger and food insecurity endure as well – but so does the drive to help.

“Meals on Wheels of Tampa is so appreciative of TECO for their continuous support of our mission over the years, as community partners, sustainers, sponsors, Adopt-A-Route volunteers and so much more,” said Lauren Vance, director of Communications and Donor Relations with Meals on Wheels of Tampa. “Their financial contribution to our mission each year, provides over 2,000 meals to Tampa’s elderly, disabled and homebound neighbors. And as Adopt-A-Route partners, the employees of TECO give their morning or lunch hour to deliver hot, nourishing meals, while providing a friendly visit and safety check, touching hundreds of lives each year.”

Buckle up with us for community caring

A Meals on Wheels delivery truck, co-sponsored by TECO (note that you, as a volunteer, would drive your own car to deliver meals).

A Meals on Wheels delivery truck, co-sponsored by TECO (note that you, as a volunteer, would drive your own car to deliver meals).

Again and again, TECO team members who volunteer for Meals on Wheels come back to similar thoughts about why it matters.

“It’s nice to be able to help those in need of a nutritious meal and be able to do it all on your lunch hour once a month,” said Senior Regulatory Accounting Analyst Lindsay O’Bryan. “It’s a small commitment of time, but it really adds up and benefits those that receive the meals as well as those that work for the organization.”

Added Cathy Pettway, utility accounting treasury specialist III: “It’s important to volunteer because without us and others like us delivering meals, they probably wouldn’t be able to cook for themselves or go to the store. Meals on Wheels depends on over 600 volunteers like me and 65 Adopt-a-Route partners like TECO to accomplish its mission.”

For Lisa Grant, regulatory pricing analyst, the personal connections are what stands out about her Meals on Wheels experience.

“I can tell that some of the people I deliver to will not see or talk to anyone else that day and they are so grateful for the daily visits from volunteers,” she said. “Meals on Wheels delivers more than 700 meals daily – that’s incredible for an organization that couldn’t survive without volunteers.”

Thank YOU for everything you do, Meals on Wheels!

Thank YOU for everything you do, Meals on Wheels!

Legal Specialist Heather Douglas, meanwhile, is the TECO team member who connects other TECO employees to Meals on Wheels of Tampa.

“Meals on Wheels helps the elderly remain independent and living in their home as opposed to having to move to an assisted care facility because they can’t prepare meals,” she said. “That fact alone is so important to TECO’s volunteers – anytime one of them has a scheduling conflict, another is ready to step in and take over the delivery route. That’s just the kind of company this is – and the kind of organization Meals on Wheels is.”

What about you?

So that brings us to you, dear reader: maybe your quote in this blog post would be about the joy of driving to see someone whose life depends in part on you – and the appreciation you receive for a simple act of caring. About how surprisingly easy it can be to make a difference. Or about how you know that not knowing where your next meal will come from might be scarier than almost anything.

Meals on Wheels: It's about more than delivering meals to someone who needs them. It's about connections you make with the power to create a stronger community.

Meals on Wheels: It’s about more than delivering meals to someone who needs them. It’s about connections you make with the power to create a stronger community.

“I’m proud to work for a company like TECO that makes helping organizations like Meals on Wheels such a high priority,” Tucker said. “Talk isn’t enough, though, and neither is just saying you care. If homebound people are having to choose between meals and medicine they need, then it’s up to us to act.”

Simply bringing food to the hungry: It’s about basic compassion; it’s about a small amount of time you can share. It’s about how the rubber, as they say, hits the road.

Learn how you can help Meals on Wheels of Tampa by attending upcoming lunch workshops at 550 W. Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa: Noon to 1 p.m. on March 29, April 6 or April 18. Taste the food, tour the kitchen and make a difference right away: delivery routes for volunteers are often available within a day’s time.

About Meals On Wheels of Tampa:
Meals On Wheels of Tampa has been committed to nourishing and enriching the independent lives of the homebound and seniors of Tampa since 1975. Today, Meals On Wheels of Tampa serves over 700 people with a hot meal during the lunch hour.  Meals On Wheels of Tampa is a 4-star charity and relies on its community for support by not accepting government funding.

Follow Meals On Wheels of Tampa on Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | YouTube

Youngest board member ever joins Board

Meals On Wheels of Tampa elected a new board member, Nick Overby, this month.

Nick, Project Engineer for HDR, was appointed in October, for terms ending in 2019.overby-nick-2

Nick joins the Meals On Wheels of Tampa Board of Directors with an established commitment and passion for giving back to the community. Growing up in Central Florida, he was actively involved in Seminole county’s Meals On Wheels, ETC. program as a volunteer alongside his family. His father, Brian Overby, was a long-time board member and former director, who helped make the building of a new kitchen and office facility a reality for Meals on Wheels, ETC.  As a high school student at Lake Mary, Nick worked in the kitchen and as office support staff while earning his Bright Futures scholarship.

Nick graduated from Florida State University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. While at FSU, he was involved in a variety of philanthropic projects through his fraternity. He began his professional career with HDR, Tampa as a Project Engineer shortly after graduation. During his time with HDR, he has served two terms as the President for their Young Professionals Group. The focus of Young Professionals is to encourage professional career development, as well as, bettering the community through volunteerism. The HDR, Tampa Young Professionals group has been involved in many charitable activities including Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Hope Children’s Fund, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Miles for Melanoma and Habitat for Humanity. As Nick begins to transition out of his leadership role in this capacity, he has recently been selected to serve on the corporate foundation board for HDR, headquartered in Omaha, NE. This three year commitment will allow Nick an opportunity to participate in global giving opportunities while serving to review and assist in selecting in which projects the corporate foundation will support. In addition to these commitments, he is working on his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Tampa, with an expected graduation of spring 2018.

“We are very excited about Nick joining our Board at MOW!  His passion and commitment to our mission, combined with his desire to serve and his many skills as a young professional, is a great addition to our mission as we continue to care for the homebound and seniors of Tampa!” said Steve King, Executive Director of Meals On Wheels of Tampa.


The Meals On Wheels of Tampa Board of Directors include:

Dennis Pitocco, President, BIZCATALYST 360°

Wilda Isabel, Vice President, Fifth Third Bank

Fred Wallrapp, Treasurer, Tribute Telecom

Jana Boehmer, Assistant Treasurer, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital

Kathy Ritchie, Secretary, Rieth & Ritchie, P.A


Mary Alvarez, Community Volunteer

Michelle Backlund, Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, Inc.

Doreen Greco Ide, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

Dolores McIntosh Community Volunteer

Holly O’Brien, Wiliam E Hahn, P.A.

Ed O’Carroll, Past President, Gulfshore Bank

Nick Overby, HDR

Laura Sherman, BKS Partners

Amy Shimberg, Past President

Cathy Smith, Past President, PAR, Inc.

Christine “Chris” Smith, St. Cyr & Associates

Doug Tuttle, Past President, Seacoast Bank

Linda Washington, Coca-Cola

Beverly White, All Generations Law

Interested in volunteering or want to learn more about Meals On Wheels of Tampa? Please visit www.MOWTampa.org or call (813) 238-8410.

If you would like to start receiving meals or if you know someone in need, please visit www.MOWTampa.org or call (813) 238-8410.

About Meals On Wheels of Tampa:
Meals On Wheels of Tampa has been committed to nourishing and enriching the independent lives of the homebound and seniors of Tampa since 1975. Today, Meals On Wheels of Tampa serves over 700 people with a hot meal during the lunch hour.  Meals On Wheels of Tampa is a 4-star charity and relies on its community for support by not accepting government funding.

Follow Meals On Wheels of Tampa on Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | YouTube

Home is where the heart is.


“She’s my constant companion.” Thomas is referring to Lucy, his 8 year old furry friend, who can be found right by his side most of the time.

Thomas has been in his home for nearly 30 years, the home where he raised his children and the home where his wife did all of the cooking when they were married. After the divorce, he managed just fine living on his own– until he was diagnosed with diabetes and arthritis.

The side effects of both drained his energy and made him unsteady on his feet. Even simple tasks became difficult.  Driving to the store to get food for himself, and Lucy too, became dangerous.

It was then Thomas realized he needed some help. He remembered his mother used to receive Meals On Wheels so he decided to give it a try.

Today, Thomas is nourished, happy, and safe in his home with Lucy. He is forever grateful for the wonderful volunteers who bring him a hot meal and a friendly smile each day.  Even Lucy receives pet food delivered once a month by volunteers through the Animeals program.

“It’s a wonderful thing I tell ya’, you all have helped me and Lucy so much. You are the reason we are still here, healthy and happy, in our home. I am forever grateful to you all.”

This community has helped serve hundreds of homebound and seniors just like Thomas every day.  All of them have an intense desire to remain living in their own home rather than face other alternatives. Many have no family or friends to help them. And for some, the MOW volunteers are their family.

Thank you for your continued support of Meals On Wheels of Tampa. Allowing us to help nourish, enrich and strengthen our elderly, disabled and at-home neighbors, like Thomas.

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Alumna Lauren Vance Fills Bellies And Hearts Through Meals on Wheels

If you heard USF’s College of Public Health alumna Lauren Vance singing to herself about rice and beans as she packs her car, you might think she’s a little too excited for lunch.

But to the hundreds of community members who receive a hot meal daily through Meals on Wheels of Tampa, Vance’s passion and enthusiasm not only keeps them fed, but visits from her and other community volunteers are also keeping them company.

“They’re no longer able to get out and do the things they once could do,” Vance said. “So we go visiting, and we bring them the meal they need.”

Currently, with the help of about 360 volunteers, Meals on Wheels of Tampa serves 700 seniors and homebound individuals daily in the Tampa area.

Vance first learned about Meals on Wheels when her grandmother began receiving meals back home.

“I’m from Illinois, and my grandmother lived about an hour away in Indiana, and she finally got to the point where she couldn’t cook anymore,” she said. “She couldn’t stand for long periods of time, and going up and down stairs was difficult.”

Meals on Wheels provided meal solutions for both her grandmother and her aunt, who had moved in as caretaker.

“She received Meals on Wheels for the last six years of her life, and loved it—just loved it,” she said. “Those volunteers coming every day to see her were the highlight of her day.”

In 2012, Vance moved to Tampa to pursue her MPH at USF. When she arrived, she knew no one.

“I spent summers, because my load was a little lighter, delivering meals, because I wanted to feel close to my family,” she said. “That was my way of connecting with this community and feeling like I belonged and finding people I could connect with.”

Vance presenting

Lauren Vance presenting research from special project titled, “The Impact of a Home-Delivered Meal Program on Nutritional Risk, Dietary Intake, Food Security, Loneliness, and Social Well-Being” at the Florida Public Health Association annual meeting in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Vance)

Vance was able to use her relationship with the organization to complete her special project towards her degree, under the guidance of nutritionist and registered dietician Dr. Lauri Wright from USF. The study measured the impact of Meals on Wheels of Tampa in terms of nutrition, hunger, food security, and loneliness and well-being. It’s been published and presented, and other programs are able to learn from it.The real-life application of her work at USF is something that Vance is incredibly appreciative of.

“They’re front-line and hands-on,” she said. “And that’s so important.”

Vance was originally drawn to USF because of its master’s international program, which combines a master’s degree with the Peace Corps. Once she arrived, however, she decided that the best use of her energy would be to give back to the community right here.

“Having a career with Meals on Wheels—it became my dream,” she said. “I just knew I wanted to help people and wanted to work for a not-for-profit on the community level.”

Vance says that seeing the direct impact on the community every day is what inspires her. She recalls one woman, who had bright eyes and spunky short hair, who would always kiss her on the cheeks and thank God when she’d arrive to deliver her meal.

“Those are the moments you don’t forget,” Vance said. “When there are tears in someone’s eyes because you brought them a meal, I mean, it’s powerful stuff.”

Now, instead of the word volunteer next to her name, Vance is director of communications for Meals on Wheels of Tampa, a position she’s held since graduating with her MPH in 2014.

“My degree gave me, truly, the tools I needed to be able to function here every day,” she said. “I learned how to develop programs, work with community partners, learn about assets in the community and, to not replicate or duplicate, but to build on what’s already been created.”

thumbnail_Nutrition class bull symbol

Lauren Vance (far left) with volunteers from the COPH and executive director of Meals on Wheels of Tampa Steve King. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Vance)

As for the future, Vance says that she just hopes to keep growing with the agency and to serve more people in the community. She’s left the future open-ended, and she said that another degree or maybe even teaching at the university level, as well as continuing with her current research and program development, are all things she’s considering.

“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing,” she said. “And I’ll be happy.”

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the USF College Of Public Healh News

Here is a story of a neighbor you fed. You helped to save her life.

You are part of my family now-01-01

Last summer, Lillian was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Suddenly, everything changed.  Lillian recalled the whole time she was undergoing chemotherapy, she was ravenously hungry.  She would sit alone, hooked up to chemo for six hours at a time, and then return to her home with nothing to eat.  She was wasting away and at the end of her rope; her weight dropped to 97 pounds from a normal weight of 125.

Lillian couldn’t drive anymore and her neighborhood does not have grocery stores nearby.  Her energy was low.  She was in a dangerous condition as she battled to regain her health.

A social worker told Lillian about Meals On Wheels.  She called the office and started to receive meals the very next day. 

“You literally saved my life.  The food is terrific.  I inhale every bite.  I cannot tell you how much it means to have the meals and even the produce you bring to me.”

Lillian is regaining her strength and says her “brain is happy!” 

“What you do is a blessing.  I have to tell you, the volunteers, the staff, everybody is just outstanding.  You are a part of my family now, you are.  Thank you!”

Thank you, donors, volunteers and supporters for helping Lillian and so many others!

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Zucchini & Chocolate

Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Is it a squash? Is it Italian? Here’s what we’ll tell you first: It certainly is used for baking! April 25 was national zucchini bread day and May 1 kicks off the start of zucchini season. Yes, this chameleon we see a lot of in the produce section here in Florida has its very own day. At Meals On Wheels, our Produce On Wheels (POW) recipients are likely to receive Bag of producezucchinis this summer in their free produce bag, as it’s in season.

We’d like to lay out the zucchini facts for you with the assistance of Wikipedia and Spices Inc. Zucchini is a summer squash which can reach almost a meter in length, but is usually harvested at half that size or less. Along with other squashes and pumpkins, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini can be dark or light green; and the golden zucchini, is a deep yellow or orange color.

In a culinary context and how chefs cook it, zucchini is treated as a vegetable.  It is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, zucchinis are fruits, a type of botanical berry, being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower.

History lesson: Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in Italy (the ones we enjoy today), many generations after their introduction from the Americas.

French chef Gui Alinat of Piquant Artisan Caterers here in Tampa Bay wanted us to share his healthy, flourless and sweet zucchini bread cake recipe that includes what else but chocolate. How French, No?

Why limit this fruity vegetable to savory when it obviously doesn’t limit itself?

“When you grow up, like me, around the Mediterranean Sea, you know zucchini. In fact, you know too much!” said Gui.  As summer approaches and weather gets really warm and sunny, all Mediterranean vegetables blossom all at once and become plentiful. And when they come, they come he said.

“They pop up everywhere. Families cook them en masse, and they appear in various ways, often twice or three times in the same menu. Fried zucchini fritters, zucchini in ratatouille, in minestrone, zucchini bread, and zucchini au gratin.”

In celebration of variety, please enjoy this healthy, flourless and sweet zucchini chocolate bread cake that will certainly leave you saying Merci!


Active time: 10 minutesCook time: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


1 cup of 70-85% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 cup of almond butter

3 zucchini, shredded in a food processor

1/3 cup of pure maple syrup

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Pour into a greased baking pan.
  2. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the brownie comes out clean.

Quick tip: Variations in oven temperatures occur. Rely on your senses. We want a beautiful, bubbly, golden and crusty top. Monitor the look of your casserole to perfection.

10-minute time saver:

Use your oven’s convection setting, if you have one. It cooks 20% faster and saves your precious time and money on your electrical bill. Adapt the cooking time accordingly when you use this chef’s secret.

Options: To add variety, replace some of the zucchini with eggplant or yellow squash. Add garlic, cayenne, and fresh herbs such as basil, lots of it, to spice things up a bit.

To learn more Chef Gui Alinat and his books, please visit www.chefgui.com.

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Celebrating Earth Day can be as simple as…

Celebrating Earth Day can be as simple as supporting your local fresh farmers’ markets. This year, Earth Day falls on April 22, 2016. All around the world, communities are hosting events to celebrate the day where we all make a conscious effort to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations. Meals On Wheels of Tampa will be celebrating with the community at the 7th Annual EcoFest on Saturday, April 23rd at the Lowry Park bandshell.

Volunteer and garden master, Kitty, checks in with 4 garden Earthbox Initiative pilot program recipients on the Meals On Wheels of Tampa program each month.

Volunteer and garden master, Kitty, checks in with 4 garden Earthbox Initiative pilot program recipients on the Meals On Wheels of Tampa program each month.

Supporting your local famers’ markets by buying locally grown fruits and veggies is one small, but big, step in cultivating a healthy food system. Here are some top reasons why you should celebrate Earth Day by purchasing locally:

One:  In most instances, your fruits and veggies have traveled a lot by the time they make it to your plate: Food in the U.S. travels an average of 15,000 miles before it makes it to your home. Purchasing locally eliminates the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels pollutes our air and adds to packaging waste. Commercial farming and agriculture uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic by-products. Food at the farmers’ market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

Steve King, Executive Director, visits the Meals On Wheels of Tampa community garden at the Sustainable Living Project near Lowry Park.

Steve King, Executive Director, visits the Meals On Wheels of Tampa community garden at the Sustainable Living Project.

Two:  Eat Seasonal. The food you buy at the farmers’ market is seasonal. It is fresh and reflects the truest flavors our earth can provide. Shopping and cooking from the farmers’ market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, sweet corn in summer, or pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year. Perks and benefits: Eating seasonally helps you save money on food. When you buy what’s in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers. And the best reason of all is that you get the best tasting, healthiest food available. The same reasons that keep the cost of seasonal food down also drive its quality up!

Three: Help your local growers. Earth Day is about give and take. The Earth is our home and gives us so much. We in turn, should do something for it: protect it. In the spirit of this give and take, let’s support our local growers. Through your support, we give local growers a fighting chance to compete with large agribusiness that dominates food production in the U.S. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.


So as you can see, you don’t need to put on your tie-dye shirt, and go outside barefoot to hug a tree this Earth Day (unless you really want to). Visit Tampa Bay Markets to see a list of local markets, and then go shopping! You’ll keep yourself and your environment healthy, and improve your local farmers’ economy. Stay healthy, be healthy, share healthy.

You can also support Meals On Wheels of Tampa by volunteering to deliver Hurricane Preparedness Packs on Sat. May 21st or fresh fruits and veggies

through the Produce On Wheels program. The goal of POW is to increase senior and homebound meal recipients’ access to fresh produce.

The program is free of charge to its recipients. The next POW delivery will take place Sat., June 18.

Do you need a hot meal delivered to your home? Do you know someone that does? Please visit www.mowtampa.org/programs/mealservice.

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Safety Tips for People with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can impact safety in several ways, affecting judgement, orientation (your sense of time and place), behavior, physical ability, and senses. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may get lost on their own street, forgetting which house is theirs and what their street number is. They may forget how to use ordinary household appliances, or they may have trouble with balance or experience changes in sensory perception.

Despite these concerns, people with Alzheimer’s disease can live safely with proper precautions. As the Alzheimer’s Association explains, “With creativity and flexibility, you can create a home that is both safe and supportive of the person’s needs for social interaction and meaningful activity.”

hand turning door handleThe Zone Method for Home Safety for Alzheimer’s Sufferers

Some experts recommend dividing the home into “zones” by setting boundaries, including:

  • Danger zones – areas that are either hazardous to access or contain unsafe items
  • Respite zones – areas where the caregiver can relax and have a few moments of privacy
  • Safe zones – areas that are carefully set up to provide a safe atmosphere for the individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease

By setting boundaries between these zones, you can ensure that there are areas of your home where your loved one can safely go about his day without worrying about potential dangers.

Remove Outdoor Safety Hazards

Wandering is a concern with some Alzheimer’s sufferers, so it’s not uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s disease to head outside and wander around the property, or worse, beyond. Installing a fence can help to keep your loved one from exiting the property and wandering into unfamiliar territory.

There are some common dangers that should be addressed outside your home beyond preventing your loved one from leaving the property, as well. For instance, locking up grill lighters, matches, and lighter fluid and potentially hazardous chemicals will prevent a person with Alzheimer’s disease from accidentally harming themselves. You should also take precautions with pools and hot tubs, such as installing a sturdy, locked fence and/or covers that cannot be easily removed.

Secure pets. Pets are absolutely great for our health, but if your loved one’s dog, for example, is a little on the hyper side he could become a fall hazard. It may also become more difficult for your loved one to care for their pet as their Alzheimer’s advances. Fortunately, there are many great care options, especially for dogs, these days so that your loved one won’t have to give up their four-legged pal. For example, you might look into hiring a local pet sitter or dog walker. They can come play with your loved one’s dog or take the furry friend for a walk. That way the animal will get the exercise they need so that they’ll be more obedient in your loved one’s home.

Take Precautionary Measures to Avoid Falls

As balance is sometimes an issue for Alzheimer’s sufferers, implementing home safety measures to help prevent falls is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your loved one’s safety. There are a variety of ways to help reduce falls in the home, such as reducing clutter, eliminating throw rugs and ensuring that cords are not stretched across common walkways or hallways, and making sure the home has adequate lighting.

Of course, fall prevention means not only addressing the environment, but the body, as well. Encouraging your loved one to participate in light exercise (only if their physician approves), such as going for a swim, making sure they get regular eye exams and have the right prescription for corrective lenses, and keeping a watchful eye following the use of medications that may cause dizziness or drowsiness can also help you play an important role in keeping your loved one safe.

Anticipate Risks and Hazards, and Adapt Accordingly

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, your loved one’s symptoms may change. Caregivers who know their loved ones best may be able to anticipate potential risks and hazards in the home that were previously safe.

Being able to adapt and make safety modifications in the home is one of the most important roles a primary caregiver can play in keeping an Alzheimer’s sufferer safe. By gradually implementing safety precautions over time, caregivers allow those with Alzheimer’s disease to remain independent and participate in activities they enjoy as long as possible.

Of course, there may come a time when you can no longer care for your loved one on your own. Know that that’s ok. There are many care options—from home care to assisted living to nursing homes—that can help you provide the care your loved one needs.

With the right safety measures in place, people with Alzheimer’s disease can enjoy their normal lives and continue residing in their own homes safely. Caregivers, together with physicians and other professionals, such as occupational therapists, can devise effective plans that create a safe home environment for many people living with Alzheimer’s.

Marie Villeza was inspired to start ElderImpact.org after she watched her son teach her father how to play Angry Birds™ on his smartphone. In that moment, she realized the importance of bringing the generations together so they can usher each other into the future, breaking down walls of fear and time. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking part in her monthly book club.

**Photo Credit: Image via Pixabay by bohed**

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Cooking Meals to Keep the Nutrients

Nutritious meals

Fresh ingredients are used to prepare nutritious meals, 365 days a year.

It seems that these days everyone is telling us how to eat to be healthy. Eat this, don’t eat that, this food is now linked to this, and this can happen if you eat too much of that. But it is important to take time to understand the value of the meals you consume, especially in terms of the power of nutritious food on your health and well being.

It can really be overwhelming and easy to get swept up in the powerful tides of experts on health. Everyone has an idea on what to feed our bodies: Anyone from Dr. Oz to your mom, and even the government (yes, even the government – visit health.gov for the 8th Edition of the Dietary Guidelines 2015- 2020).

In honor of national nutrition month, I’d like to share how simple it is to create your own nutritious meals, with all of the good nutrients, and tell you how Meals On Wheels of Tampa provides complete meals to over 700 recipients in the Tampa Bay area every day. I asked my friend and peer, Chef Felicia LaCalle of HealthE Gourmet in Tampa to share easy ways to get the most nutrients from your meals when cooking.

Daily hot meals.

Meals On Wheels of Tampa volunteers deliver 700 hot meals, fresh, every day.

Chef LaCalle says the most important food group to start with, and the one that we can maximize retaining

nutrients from, are our vegetables. She recommends steaming, sautéing or blanching your veggies. How do you know which to steam and which to blanch? She says that typically you want to blanch your green and more fibrous veggies such as green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots to name a few. For softer ones like squash or eggplant, she recommends a quick sauté with olive oil.

How to blanch vegetables: Bring seasoned water to a boil. Depending on the vegetable, you can boil from 25 minutes to 50 seconds. For green beans and more tender veggies, 25- 30 seconds should do the trick; and for more fibrous and thicker veggies, 45- 50 seconds should be enough. Then strain your veggies and dump them in a bowl of ice water to “shock” them. Just a quick dunk will do. Chef LaCalle explains that the blanching process retains the nutrients and vibrancy of your veggies. It also cooks them and keeps them crispy. A last detail is that they won’t turn brown when re-heating for dinner or lunch the next day.

As far as proteins and carbohydrates, Chef LaCalle says that cooking technique really doesn’t change or deplete nutrient levels. It’s all really a matter of preference, so if you like your meats grilled or charred, you’re still getting the same nutrient content. However, always remember that how you cook and prepare your proteins and carbohydrates do make a big difference as to how healthy your meal is: Grilled as opposed to fried, and heavy butter or cream as opposed to lemon or olive oil.

MOWTampa nutrition information.

Visit www.mowtampa.org/programs/mealservice for nutrition information.

An easy way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need: Chef LaCalle says that just by seeing varying colors on your plate is a good indication. The nutrients are in the colors! Also, you can obtain important and necessary nutrients by varying your diet. Switching it up allows you access to all the great nutrients nature has to offer.

Meals On Wheels of Tampa provides the variety, portion, and nutrient-rich meals that not only feed Tampa’s senior and

homebound neighbors, but enrich their lives as well. To see how they switch-up their menu with 30 day revolving meal offerings, please visit their site under Programs and Meal Service: www.MOWTampa.org/programs/mealservice. To see their nutritional information, click here.

In need of meal service or know some one that does? Please visit www.mowtampa.org/programs/mealservice.




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Produce On Wheels: Produce on the Rise, but still in the Budget

Meals On Wheels of Tampa is keeping the goodness rolling in March which is National Nutrition Month. And how appropriate for me to share with you more about Produce On Wheels (POW), as well as tips on how to shop for produce on a budget.

Access and excitement over produce has increased over the years and with changing weather patterns. We always knew that eating our veggies and fruits were good for us, but as a society, we are really starting to move away from processed foods. Schools are starting to offer salad bars and there are more whole and all-natural food stores around the country than ever before.


Meals On Wheels of Tampa POW volunteers delivered this bag to 700 seniors and homebound in February.

Produce cost has always been a barrier to consumption and I often hear complaints that produce is simply too expensive. It’s unfortunate that the price of fresh fruits and vegetables keeps us from eating as healthy as possible. This is why I wanted to share with you some cost-saving suggestions from Lori Taylor, better known as The Produce Mom. Here are her top five tips:

  • Buy in-season produce
  • Buy in bulk and freeze
  • Look for and buy discounted produce- don’t be afraid to try the ‘ugly’ or ‘blemished’ produce
  • Prep the produce yourself instead of buying sliced
  • Shop sales and plan your meals

Meals On Wheels of Tampa recently developed Produce On Wheels (POW), a program developed to increase their senior and homebound program recipients’ access to fresh produce, free of charge.  The organization has partnered with Feeding Tampa Bay to purchase the produce for the POW program. In February, they purchased romaine lettuce, oranges, carrots, and tomatoes; and Feeding Tampa Bay then donated bell peppers.  Feedback has been overwhelming from the recipients, as they are excited to have a healthy fruit snack option or make a salad with the veggies provided, in addition to their regular hot meal delivery. The program has also been of value to their recipients and volunteers as it allows a weekend opportunity for social connection and volunteerism.

Meals On Wheels of Tampa hopes to expand the program to delivering POW twice a month, pending additional funding. For now, volunteers deliver bags of fresh produce on the third Saturday of every month, and the next deliveries are scheduled for March 19, April 16, June 18, and July 16.

To sign up to volunteer to deliver POW, please visit www.mowtampa.org/programs/pow.

For more information on Lori Taylor, The Produce Mom, please visit www.theproducemom.com


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Spreading Sunshine Teaching Kindness to Kids

I have a dear friend, Rachel, who is the kindest, friendliest soul I’ve ever known. Friends describe her as sunshine, and appropriately, she loves sunflowers, which are almost as bright and beautiful as her kind heart.  Rachel recently got engaged, and at hKids art greetingser engagement party, I was asked what part of Rachel’s personality I looked forward to seeing her pass on to her future children. Without a second thought, I said her heart for others. She cares for people in a way that is so rare today and I can’t wait for her and her fiancé to have kids because we need more kind people like Rachel in the world.

As I thought about my own young son and how I want him to grow up to be a gentleman who is kind to everyone he meets, I made a resolution to find ways to be more like Rachel, to show kindness to others daily. I want to be a good example for my son and teach him to care for others. Here are five ideas I’ve come up with that are easy ways for parents to teach their children to be good neighbors through simple acts of kindness:

  1. Share your baked goods. Any time you’re baking with your kids at home, double your recipe. Take half of the treats and have your children give them away – to friends, neighbors, your local fire station, etc.
  2. Send handwritten cards to friends and loved ones. With email and social media at the center of our lives today, few people still take the time to mail handwritten notes to people they’re thinking of, or people who are going through difficult times. Have your children turn their artwork into greeting cards to show them how a simple gesture can
    Volunteers of all ages deliver kindness with Meals on Wheels. Photo courtesy of Meals on Wheels of Tampa.

    Volunteers of all ages deliver kindness with Meals on Wheels. Photo courtesy of Meals on Wheels of Tampa.

    really brighten someone’s day.

  3. Hold doors for strangers. As we hurry through our lives, we tend to forget about thissimple courtesy. It only takes a second to show someone that they’re worth a moment of your time.
  4. Encourage your kids to donate some of their toys to children in need. This is a great thing to do to participate in holiday toy drives for organizations like Metropolitan Ministries, Toys for Tots and Samaritan’s Purse. Bring your children with you to the place where you’re making the donation so they can see their gifts in action.
  5. Visit an elderly neighbor. Even better, dedicate an hour each week to deliver Meals on Wheels with your kids. Meals On Wheels of Tampa volunteers deliver meals to the homebound, disabled and elderly in the Tampa community. In addition to enjoying hot meals that nourish their bodies, the recipients appreciate a smiling face to brighten their often lonely days.  And the smiling face of a child can really help lift their spirits.

With flexibility in what routes you can take, where you pick up meals and how often you deliver, volunteering for an hour or so a week with Meals on Wheels can fit into busy families’ schedules. The organization is in great need of volunteers with many routes open at the start of 2016, so I know my son and I will put our time to good use by driving a route in Lutz each week.

Want more ideas for volunteering as a family? Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find local volunteer opportunities that fit your family’s interests.

How will your family make showing kindness part of your routine this year?

Go out and spread some sunshine! Because #KindnessMatters.

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Meals On Wheels: Miles of Smiles Delivered

Meals On Wheels: Miles of Smiles Delivered

NOT LONG AGO, we at Meals On Wheels of Tampa celebrated our 40th Anniversary – a remarkable achievement indeed, for an organization privately-funded from day one. What better time than now to take a “walk down memory lane” – sharing not only the highlights of our story, but also the history of Meals on Wheels as a global program?

Meals on Wheels Across America

Meals on Wheels operates in virtually every community in America through a network of more than 5,000 independently-run local programs, supported by over two million volunteers. While the diversity of each program’s services and operations may vary based on the needs and resources of their communities, all committed to delivering nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s homebound to live nourished lives with independence and dignity.

Meals on Wheels History

This photograph depicts members of a London WVS centre, in 1947, loading pails containing individually portioned Meals on Wheels onto a delivery van. Source: Royal Voluntary Service

This photograph depicts members of a London WVS centre, in 1947, loading pails containing individually portioned Meals on Wheels onto a delivery van. Source: Royal Voluntary Service

The first ever Meals on Wheels began in 1940 in the United Kingdom during “the Blitz” when thousands of people had lost their homes and had no way of cooking meals for their families. So the Women’s Volunteer Service (WVS) for Civil Defense of Great Britain (now known as the Royal Voluntary Service) started preparing and delivering meals to those in need. The first home delivery of a meal was made by the WVS in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England in 1943.

These volunteer women also delivered refreshments on carts or “canteens” to soldiers and these canteens soon became known as “Meals on Wheels,” giving the nutritional program its name and providing a legacy of care that continues to this day in communities around the world. Today, there are Meals on Wheels programs in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The first ever home-delivered meal program in the United States began in Philadelphia in January 1954. A social worker pioneered a program to provide nourishment that met the dietary needs of homebound seniors and other “shut-ins” in the area who otherwise would have to go hungry. Most of the volunteers were high school students, who were dubbed “Platter Angels.” The “Platter Angels” would prepare, package, and deliver food to the elderly and disabled through their community. The daily delivery consisted of one nutritionally balanced hot meal to eat at lunchtime, and a dinner consisting of a cold sandwich and milk along with varying side dishes.

Meal On Wheels of Tampa

Meals On Wheels of Tampa was founded by Gloria Fuentes, a Tampa resident experiencing difficulty when caring for her two homebound relatives who lived on opposite sides of the city. Recognizing the need to assist not only her family, but also others who wanted to remain independent in the security of their own homes, she formed a committee of pastors and church members throughout Tampa to help organize the effort.

On March 17, 1975, Meals On Wheels of Tampa began with a group of dedicated volunteers who cooked meals in the recreation hall of a local United Methodist Church and delivered 14 meals to people who were homebound. The number of those in need of the meals provided by Meals On Wheels has steadily increased over the years.

Our Home Since 1974

Our Home Since 1994

In 1993, after 17 years of helping people from the kitchens and offices of neighboring organizations throughout the community, Meals on Wheels purchased the building at 550 W. Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa to house its Administrative Offices and Kitchen.

In 2006, as a result of a capital campaign, a major kitchen renovation was completed. The renovation began after an extensive strategic planning process focusing on growth while maintaining the grassroots, personal touch, care, and compassion that is synonymous with Meals On Wheels of Tampa.  The new commercial grade kitchen enabled the mission to reach more people in need of food.

Now, after years of faithful volunteer and community support, Meals On Wheels of Tampa serves approximately 700 meals per day to our homebound neighbors. Creative planning and generous donations from the community has made it possible for Tampa’s homebound individuals and seniors to receive the help they need. Believe it or not, our remarkable Drivers will this year cover just about the equivalent distance of a trip to the moon – while nourishing and enriching the independent lives of the homebound and seniors!

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