For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for helping others and a soft spot for the less fortunate, or people going through difficult times. Regardless of recognition, I have always felt an overwhelming reward while helping someone else. That “feel good” sensation has driven me to continue helping people in my community. I want to tell you my story about how I became committed to the mission of Meals On Wheels of Tampa.
I never “had time” to volunteer, as it would take away from what I really wanted to do. Between going to the beach, having an active social life, and sleeping in, my time just wasn’t negotiable. With school and work taking up a good portion of my time, I felt like I hardly had time for myself. Years passed and I was in a cycle of doing what I felt like was more than most. I gave spare change to the homeless and supported my friends and their dreams; I felt good.
Ana-Karina Guerra delivering to a recipient.
At a point something changed. I’m not sure what it was, but it changed and I became different. I was so tired of constantly seeing social media posts about people in need and the lack of sensitivity coming from my peers. It seemed as if all anyone was doing, including myself, was hitting the share button, like no one was actually doing anything to make a real difference. So, I decided to look within myself to become more aware of what was important to me, and what made me happy.
It’s funny how the universe places opportunities in your path when you commit to a new way of thinking. One day I came across Meals On Wheels of Tampa (MOWTampa). Their mission spoke volumes to me. MOWTampa is committed to nourishing and enriching the independent lives of the homebound and seniors. It correlated with what I was trying to accomplish. The organization provides hope, support, companionship, care, patience, and love to our communities elderly and homebound. MOWTampa’s involvement within the senior community is substantial! Did you know 1 in every 6 seniors experience hunger, and 1 in 5 experience loneliness? For many recipients, the visit from a volunteer is the only human contact they’ll experience in a day. Since 1975, MOWTampa has been strengthening the community by caring for a segment of our population that is often forgotten, the aging and disabled. This privately funded non-profit, which accepts to governmental funds, prepares its own food and relies on help from volunteers to deliver approximately 700 meals to our homebound neighbors each day. Once I learned this, I knew I wanted to get involved.
I chose to join the team as a volunteer for their Produce On Wheels (POW!) program. On the third Saturday of every month, volunteers deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to recipients. I delivered my first MOWTampa route, about a year ago, and had an absolute blast! Everyone I came into contact with that day was so grateful for the special delivery. It felt amazing to see the smiles that greeted me as I approached each door. Since my first delivery, I have continuously signed up to deliver more routes, and I’m constantly looking forward to volunteering with MOWTampa! When I first began volunteering with MOWTampa, I thought because I worked two jobs that POW! would be my only volunteer option; however, that is not the case! MOWTampa offers numerous volunteer opportunities that fit all schedules, and offers many ways to donate your time and talents.
I am super excited to have the opportunity to be a virtual volunteer. This allows me to spread the mission of MOWTampa across the community. I want to inspire my generation to look around and actually participate in volunteer work that will progress our society, and MOWTampa has helped me do this. I am able to meet people of all backgrounds, and learn more about them with each visit. If you like to be active on social media join me, and the rest of the virtual volunteers, to help spread the word of what’s going on in our own backyard. Do you like meeting new people? Create a volunteer account by visiting www.MOWTampa.org and help deliver a meal to someone who genuinely needs it. Maybe you love animals. Well, they even partner with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to deliver pet food for those who may not be able to afford pet food or get to the store to buy it, this program is called Animeals. Don’t want to commit just yet? Join their Chef, staff and other community members interested in learning more for a Nourish At Noon community lunch from 12-1pm twice a month, RSVP at www.MOWTampa.org/home/events/nan. You can also follow them on social media on Facebook or Instagram, they post great updates each day!
I challenge you to help our neighbors however you can. Humble yourself and open your heart to others who need a helping hand right here in Tampa.
Visit www.MOWTampa.org to learn more or for other ways to give back to Meals On Wheels.
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.
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