Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Morning....

Sometimes you have to dig through the paper to find good news, but it is always worth it.  I want to thank those at Meals-On-Wheels and anyone else out there who volunteers.  Your work is noticed, and appreciated!  Thank you, God Bless and have a Very Merry Christmas!

Snow proves no stumbling block for one Meals-On-Wheels volunteer

by Abby Haight, The Oregonian
Tuesday December 23, 2008, 7:24 PM

On a normal Tuesday, Cynthia Stowell is among a small army of volunteers who deliver Meals-On-Wheels to more than 2,800 fragile and homebound elders, many alone and lonely.

But this was not a normal Tuesday.

The snowstorm had crippled Loaves & Fishes, the nonprofit agency that provides meals to Meals-on-Wheels and also serves meals to elders at 31 centers across Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties -- in all, 5,000 hot meals five days a week. Trucks couldn't deliver fresh food to the centers. Neither could they deliver the Meals-On-Wheels plates from the agency's central kitchen in Multnomah Village to the centers, where volunteers could distribute them. 

Thomas Murray chats with Cynthia Stowell after she delivers a hot meal through Meals-On-Wheels to his downtown Portland apartment Tuesday. Loaves & Fishes, which supplies the meals, closed most of its operations because of the winter storm but still provided hot meals to almost 1,500 of the 2,800 housebound seniors in Multnomah, Washington and Clark county who use the service. The downtown Elm Court Center was the only Meals-On-Wheels center open Tuesday and delivered to all of its clients.

In houses, apartments and rooms across the metro area, elders who counted on Meals-On-Wheels as sustenance for body and soul faced doing without.

The central kitchen was able to find volunteers to deliver between 1,000 and 1,500 meals to the most in need.

"They're the ones that, if we don't bring them food, they're not going to have anything," said Julie Piper Finley, a spokeswoman for Loaves & Fishes. "We just can't let that happen."

Safety concerns led Loaves & Fishes to close its centers.

Cynthia Stowell and her husband, John Miller, make their way over snowy Portland streets Tuesday to deliver Meals-On-Wheels to about a dozen elderly apartment residents. Stowell always walks the route, and she had wondered how she would manage the cart if it snowed. She got help from Miller, who was off work because of the snow.
"We didn't want seniors to try to drive or take public transportation -- the chances of them falling and breaking a bone before they even get in our door was pretty high," Piper Finley said.

Only the Loaves & Fishes Elm Court Center in downtown Portland was open for regular business Monday and Tuesday, providing meals in its dining room for about 190 folks and sending out Meals-On-Wheels to 140 clients.

And that is where Stowell arrived at 11 a.m. sharp to deliver meals to about a dozen residents in four low-income apartment buildings.

Her husband, John Miller, was on a snow day from his job as a system information specialist at Metro and came along to help, muscling an unwieldy cart carrying two large insulated boxes -- one for hot plates, the other for drinks and oranges -- over icy ruts and snowbanks.

Other volunteers loaded boxes into SUVs for slippery drives to outer neighborhoods.

Stowell, a photographer and writer, signed on with Meals-On-Wheels after their son began his freshman year at Portland State University this fall.

"Ever since I started this, I've had good weather," Stowell said as she stepped gingerly over a ridge of gray snow. "I thought, 'What will I do if it snows?' Naw, that's not going to happen."

Her route took Stowell and Miller past glitzy condominiums, by a busy grocery store, past men huddled with cigarettes and coffee outside St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. In the apartment buildings, holiday lights brightened the windows.

Some visits were no more than a brief exchange.

But others were eager for company, as well as food.

Esther Atkinson took her meal and set it aside. She couldn't find the magnifying glass to read a Christmas card from an old friend. Stowell read the card for her.

Atkinson smiled as she listened to the friend's memories of camping trips on Mount Hood.

Thomas Murray was an Indiana farm boy. He worked in factories, in logging, in restaurants ,and he is quick with a joke.

"Where did you grow up," Stowell asked.

"I didn't," Murray replied.

Murray usually can walk to the grocery store, but not in the snow.

"I've got to hand it to these people," he said. "They have a lot of work to do. They do a damn good job."

Stowell introduced Miller to several of the elders. He's heard stories about all of them. Now he knew their faces.

A few more stops. Wishes for a happy Christmas and New Year.

The deliveries take about an hour.

Loaves & Fishes central kitchen will prepare Christmas Eve dinners that will be delivered to as many Meals-On-Wheels clients as possible. The full Meals-On-Wheels could be back to normal by Friday.

Stowell jotted notes in a journal for Michael Bagby, the Elm Court Meals-On-Wheels coordinator. Occasionally, she'll alert the agency if a client is feeling ill or needs special attention. But her favorite memory is being stopped by a woman who wanted to sign up for Meals-On-Wheels.

"By the very next week, she was on the list and I was delivering her meal," Stowell said.

-- Abby Haight;


Living on the Spit December 24, 2008 at 8:32 AM  

Bravo! Bravo! Meals on Wheels is such a wonderful organization and helps so many wonderdul souls who deserve it.

What a great article...I just love reading stories about giving and random acts of kindness...they fuel my soul.

Here's a toast to you and your lovie hoping you are having a wonderful today and always.


I am getting some of the best captchas today...this one is "godling" there a message there?

Love you...Marlene

Living on the Spit December 24, 2008 at 8:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Living on the Spit December 24, 2008 at 8:34 AM  

I deleted the repeat because I am not the brightest gem in the jewelry box today!!!

(Sometimes!) Serendipitous Girl December 24, 2008 at 10:51 AM  

Awwww, that is a really sweet story. This storm is bringing out the best in us P-Towners. Except for the guy that got arrested trying to drive the PGE truck so he could move his car. Oopsie.

big hair envy December 24, 2008 at 7:51 PM  

The Meals on Wheels volunteers are an awesome group of people. My dad and his wife each run a local Area Agency on Aging (Both in eastern Virginia). MOW is one of the programs they organize. The stories I have heard over the years would warm even the coldest heart:)

Merry Christmas to you, Jimmy and the babies!! May you be richly blessed:)

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