Meals On Wheels of Tampa will be participating in The 2018 Subaru Share the Love® Event as a member of Meals on Wheels America, one of four national Share the Love charitable partners supported through the promotion. From Nov. 15 through Jan. 2, 2019, Subaru of America will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased to the customer’s choice of participating charities.
“We are so excited for this partnership with Subaru! Meals on Wheels of Tampa does not accept federal funds, so campaigns like these are vital to the success and growth of our agency, allowing us to be able to feed more seniors and homebound in Tampa. Meals On Wheels delivers much more than a meal, for so many it’s about independence and social connection also. As the homebound population increases, the need for programs like ours will continue to grow,” said Shana Taylor-Page, Director of Programs & Partners.
Participating Meals on Wheels America members, like Meals On Wheels of Tampa, will receive a share of the donation raised by Subaru in their state.
“Meals on Wheels America is thrilled to partner with Subaru of America for the Subaru Share the Love Event for the eleventh year in a row,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Since 2008, the Subaru Share the Love Event has helped local Meals on Wheels programs deliver nearly 2 million meals to vulnerable seniors nationwide. We remain proud and grateful to have the generous support of Subaru in helping us ensure that homebound seniors receive the daily nutrition and companionship they need to thrive.”
Over the last 10 years, Subaru of America and its participating retailers have donated more than $118 million to its charity partners. This year’s Subaru Share the Love Event is on track to bring that total to over $140 million, proving there’s no limit to the amount of love we can all share.
By purchasing or leasing a new Subaru during the Subaru Share the Love® Event and selecting Meals On Wheels as your charity of choice, you can help deliver nutritious meals and other important services to seniors here in Tampa.
Written by: Ericka Leigh
We know why volunteering is good for the people we serve – it’s a nice thing to do; we’re able to help those less fortunate or in a difficult position; we’re able to share ourselves and our talents, and you feel good. But there’s actually so much more that volunteering can offer you aside from the warm fuzzies. Volunteering connects you to others in the community, as well as brings fulfillment to your life. And volunteering is good for the body and the mind.
Some of the social benefits of volunteering
In addition to connecting you to the community, volunteering can be a great place to make new friends (particularly if people are new to an area) or strengthen existing relationships if you volunteer together. As you connect with the community more, your network broadens and you may discover previously unknown neighborhood resources. Volunteering can also be a great family activity and an invaluable teaching opportunity. You may even discover some resources, community organizations, or upcoming events for your children.
Mental and physical benefits of volunteering
Volunteering is one of those feel good activities. When you do good for someone else, you cannot help but feel good about yourself. According to a study by the www.HelpGuide.org, “Volunteering makes you happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Humans are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.” Volunteering also has the ability to reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, and anger. As you volunteer more and increase your skills set, you increase your self-confidence. As a volunteer, you can oftentimes see the fruits of your labor immediately, which provides a sense of accomplishment and pride. Whatever may be happening in life at the moment, volunteering can provide an outlet to get your mind off things while remaining productive and take you out of your problems for a while, and possibly better equipped to handle them at a later point in time.
“Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off of worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life,” (www.HelpGuide.org).
Volunteers come from all walks of life. Research suggests “those who engage in volunteer activities are less likely to suffer from ill health later in life and may be introduced into a positive reinforcing cycle of good health and future volunteering.” It also keeps you healthy (most likely from the stress reducing effects), and studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. For some folks heading into retirement, volunteering can offer a sense of purpose. Additionally, older volunteers tend to be more active, thereby finding it easier to manage everyday tasks and experience fewer symptoms of chronic pain and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Fun and Fulfillment to your life
If you’re interested in something and want to learn more, volunteering provides a wonderful opportunity to explore those interests and passions. Volunteering is a great way to break up the day-to-day routine of work, family, school, etc. Volunteering also has the power to renew one’s creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into personal and professional life. With so many volunteer opportunities in a variety of areas and fields, volunteering provides people outlets to fulfill their hobbies, as well.
Meals On Wheels of Tampa often sets up ride alongs for potential volunteers to allow them to experience what delivering meals feels like before they commit to delivering a route. Call (813) 238-8410 to set up a “free-trial.”
Written by: Ericka Leigh
His job description may include hospitality, but for longtime volunteer Geoff, it is also a way of life. He embodies the spirit of hospitality and his recipients know it.
Geoff has been a MOW volunteer since 2015, and has delivered the same route the entire time. He delivers every Monday and often on Fridays. Since he started volunteering, he’s taken two breaks, but has returned for the community. He’s delivered in the same area of northeast Tampa including Ybor City and Port Tampa the whole time and was pleased to see so many familiar faces when he came back each time.
“I’ve become friends with some of the recipients to the point of going to their house on my days off and having an afternoon coffee. [My recipient] only speaks Spanish and mine isn’t that great so it’s also been an opportunity for me to practice.”
As Geoff delivers meals, he spends a few moments catching up with each recipient. He spends more time with some recipients than others, especially if they need help finding or fixing something. “Last week, I helped Carolyn find her phone. It had fallen under the couch. She told me she could hear it ringing for two days but could not get to it. So when I delivered her meal again a few days later, she asked me if I could help her locate it. That also showed me I was probably the only person she spoke to that day.”
When asked how Geoff fits volunteering in his busy schedule, especially since he took a hiatus, he replied, “I just do. Certain things take priority and you make time for it. Working in hospitality helps some with flexibility, too; but I like doing this and its important to me.”
Working in hospitality, Geoff knows a thing or two about food. “I work with food and I know food insecurity is an issue. I like volunteering with MOW because we address food insecurity. The other side of food insecurity is that even if someone does have the means to afford food, they don’t always have the means of acquiring food, which is the homebound part of the mission, and I’m able to provide that for them.”
Geoff said volunteering has helped him adjust his perception of things and events. He said his favorite element was the community aspect. “Even when my recipient isn’t home, usually a neighbor is and I get to know more than just one or two people per neighborhood. I’ve actually seen my recipient’s neighbor out and about, which was cool. I enjoy getting to know more of my community members.” Geoff appreciates multiple community aspects. I asked him why he chose MOW to donate his time to, and he said, “I can’t think of another effort that so directly affects the community. You can donate money to organizations, but you don’t always see the effects of that donation. I see where that money goes as a volunteer. Additionally, you can see the immediate impact of your time. You’re feeding someone. And this MOW stays local, I know its funded by the community for the community and I like the local impact it has.”
We deliver to one of the last recipients on the route and Geoff notices her front gate could use some minor repairs. He asks her if she knows anyone who could fix it. She said no, and he replied, “So if I show up one day with some tools to help you, will you be here?” She nodded. Geoff, once again, showcasing our volunteers’ deliver more than a meal and emphasizing the value of community.
By: Brian Lott, TECO Energy News, TECO Energy in the Community
Where will today’s adventure take us?
This one starts on West Grand Central Ave. in Tampa, behind the First Baptist Church, as the rear door of the Meals on Wheels light-duty delivery truck rattles open. Stacy Hallman, forecast analyst lead, is there to receive bags of fresh meals – and a list of names and addresses – from the upbeat truck driver. She and Katy Patrick, load research analyst, situate the meals neatly inside Katy’s SUV and head out into the city.
It’s a winding journey through old Tampa neighborhoods on a day that could barely be nicer. Driving like this gives you a look at the character of the community in ways that you might not otherwise see or seek out.
And here they are, pulling up at a house on Woodlawn Ave. Stacy steps out with a meal bag and goes to the door of the old two-story bungalow.
“Meals on Wheels!” she announces with a knock.
Silence. She tries another door. Nothing. Katy calls Meals on Wheels and right away has an answer: the meal recipient has just gone into the hospital. (Sorry for the confusion!) This kind of thing happens with residents who are homebound due to illness.
Next stop: nearby Adalee Street. (Meals on Wheels works to route volunteer drivers through deliveries that are relatively close to each other.) This time, success – an elderly woman opens the door and happily accepts her meal.
It’s a scavenger hunt of sorts, with moments of gratitude to be discovered and little pockets of mystery along the way. Deliveries are quick – people need to eat, after all – and it’s more enjoyable than you might expect. Some might even say it’s a blast.
Where to next?
“We used to do this once or twice a year,” Stacy said of her deliveries for Meals on Wheels. (The average route includes 10 or more recipients.) “But with fewer volunteers and more homebound people in need of food, it’s more like once a month lately.”
It’s not just happening in Tampa but nationwide. TECO team members like Stacy and Katy, and a handful of others, are diligently building adventure into the middle of their days to help those in need. Marshall Tucker, manager with Tampa Electric’s Corporate Business Development team, is on the Meals on Wheels board. Legal Specialist Heather Douglas coordinates volunteer drivers. They’re looking for help from someone like you.
Because as needs continue to rise, who will meet them? About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every single day and Meals on Wheels Tampa’s work reflects this: since June 2017, the nonprofit has increased the number of meals it serves from a daily average of 750 to 850 – and it’s added 65 active recipients during that time.
“What you’re doing [with Meals on Wheels] is so important,” a Meals on Wheels recipient who asked not to be named told Stacy. The reason for this request, she said, is about perceptions: “People judge others. They think that if you can greet somebody at your front door, you’re not sick.”
She wanted to drive the point home: “I just want everybody to know how valuable Meals on Wheels is. It’s all I have.”
What does your midday adventure look like? What neighborhoods can you see for the first time? What music plays as you drive to your destinations – Top 40 radio, maybe? Late ’60s Miles Davis or perhaps some old-school Detroit techno (at reasonable volume)? Talk radio? Sports talk?
Or what about the silence of your thoughts, or the conversation you can have with a partner as you travel through the community, bringing a lifeline of food to people who struggle to get it other ways?
Being a Meals on Wheels volunteer is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the community and get out of the office on company time. What you find along the way is the joy you bring in helping others. With company goals again requiring every team member to donate time in the community, now is the time to step up – and sign up.
Can you find it in yourself to give it a try? People who could be your parents or grandparents will be grateful. Meals on Wheels is like a scavenger hunt that nourishes your soul.