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'It's a Godsend' | Meal on Wheels recipient offers thanks as organization looks for volunteers

The Peninsula Agency on Aging is always looking for volunteers to deliver meals to 700 seniors a day.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — William McLaughlin is grateful for what the Meals on Wheels program has done for him. 

"For me, it's a Godsend," he said.

Every day, at the same time, a volunteer with the Peninsula Agency on Aging delivers a hot meal to his Newport News home. He gets a friendly visit and even a safety check as a bonus. 

"It's almost like having a doctor and a food service," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin, who walks with a cane, said health problems make it hard for him to handle items without dropping them. For him, cooking on a hot stove isn't possible. 

He told a group of volunteers and supporters at Peninsula Agency on Aging headquarters just how thankful he is for their service. 

"In fact, I sit outside waiting for them and usually I go out about 11 o'clock, within 10, 15 minutes, they're pulling up."

Every day, the peninsula's Meals on Wheels program delivers a hot meal to more than 700 senior citizens. It takes at least 40 volunteers.

"They come out in all kinds of weather, show up and get the meals out every single day," said Gerald Patesel, the vice president of community services.

The agency saw a spike in need with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and that has continued. However, emergency funding has not. That's why Patesel is so appreciative of all the volunteer help he can get.

"I enjoy being a volunteer. It gave me a sense of pride and purpose of giving back," said Regina McCallum, who's been volunteering since last September.

John Schreiber has volunteered for 40 years and reflects on the times when his visits were perhaps lifesaving. 

"I have gone to some of their houses and knock on their doors and I hear them yelling help and I go inside and they're laying on the floor and thank God they are on the program and I was able to call 911," he said.

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to call the home office at (757) 873-0541. 

Credit: Janet Roach
Volunteers and supporters for the Peninsula Agency on Aging Meals on Wheels program

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