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NEWS DAY | East Side Minneapolis Meals on Wheels looking for volunteers
I got a call from Eileen Hafften, executive director of East Side Meals on Wheels, who's looking for volunteers in Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis. The Northeast Minneapolis Meals on Wheels recently merged with the Southeast Minneapolis program, which she says "unfortunately ran out of money." The combined program just moved to a new location in Catholic ElderCare in Northeast Minneapolis at 817 Main Street NE.
If you want to volunteer: You need a driver's license and your own vehicle. Hafften says, "If they're familiar with the area, that's huge! It's nice to get a former bus driver or taxi driver, but we do provide maps and directions." Call 612-277-2529 or email nemealsonwheels [at] msn [dot] com
Eastside Meals on Wheels is one of scores of Meals on Wheels organizations in Minnesota. They deliver meals to about 115 people on 14 routes, Monday through Friday, said Hafften. (A few people get only Monday, Wednesday, Friday or two-day service, according to their needs and preferences.) Weekends? "If they like," said Hafften, "we can send out extra meals for them to heat up by themselves over the weekend."
Part of the reason they need more volunteers is expansion in Southeast Minneapolis. "There's a lot of people who don't want to venture over to Southeast Minneapolis to drive," said Hafften. "They're more familiar with the Northeast area. It's like the battle between St. Paul and Minneapolis - if you grew up in St. Paul, you don't venture into Minneapolis and vice versa."
TCDP: You're looking for volunteers. What does a volunteer commitment look like?
Hafften: For volunteer drivers, they pick up meals at 11:15. They'd make about six to eight stops. And then they'd have to return the insulated bags to us and go on their merry way. It's usually done within an hour. We've designed it so people can come on their lunch hour from neighboring businesses.
In addition to individual volunteers, we are also looking for companies that would take on a route and get a team of volunteers. One team from UCare comes each Friday, so it's different people each week. They all share the opportunity or commitment.
They don't have to commit to every week - that's ideal, but we have people who come once a month or every other week.
TCDP: When you say Southeast, what neighborhoods do you mean?
Hafften: Prospect Park, Marcy Holmes and Como. It runs the south border of the river, and then the east border is 280, and the north border is northeast Minneapolis. It runs right along the river.
TCDP: Do the volunteers stop in and visit?
Hafften: They don't, but they can develop personal relationships with the people. How's the day going, how are you feeling, that kind of thing. But we do have drivers who have gotten really close to the clients.
It can be very rewarding.
One of our main goals, besides the meal, is just to make sure the person is okay. If something seems amiss, the driver calls us and we will get ahold of their family member. We will keep at it until we reach them, in case they have fallen and, literally, can't get up.
We also have volunteer visitors willing to go out and make occasional visits with our most isolated clients.
We also have other volunteer opportunities for people such as becoming committee or board members. We are currently looking for a fundraising committee chair and members. Other committees looking for members are nomination, HR and Pr committees. We need volunteers to help when we do mailings or to volunteer at fundraiser activities (pancake breakfast, etc.)
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Hafften explained that the program is supported in part by donations and in part by county or insurance payments for some clients. They rely on partners, too — Northeast Lions, St. Anthony Kiwanis, Northeast Kiwanis, East Side Exchange and many churches.
(Photo courtesy of Meals on Wheels)
817 Main Street NE