Recieving and Giving: A Meals on Wheels Story
When people hear “Athens Community Council on Aging,” the first thing many think of is our Meals on Wheels program and for good reason. With the help of around 130 volunteers, the program provides almost 73,000 meals to 300 clients each year. ACCA’s dedicated staff and volunteers deliver healthy and balanced meals to help address our community’s hunger and senior isolation.
But as many of our meal recipients would tell you, it is truly more than just a meal.
With every meal delivery, our volunteers provide safety checks, a friendly face, and a reminder that we care about them. For so many of our meal recipients, the volunteer delivering their meals is the only person they may see or speak to all day. This program gives them something to look forward to and enables them to age well and live well.
One volunteer who always shows up ready to help is Isabel Alpaugh.
Fourteen years ago, Isabel’s friend Leila Bjorkland-Glazman was looking for ways to engage and give back to her community along with Isabel. She discovered ACCA’s volunteer opportunities.
“It just seemed like a perfect opportunity,” said Bjorkland-Glazman.
Alpaugh picked up her first Meals on Wheels delivery route, and she has not looked back since. Though Bjorkland-Glazman hasn’t been able to volunteer with Alpaugh the entire fourteen years, she recently began delivering with her again.
Every week, the two learn new and exciting things about their community, and each other, through their Meals on Wheels delivery route.
While they look forward to creating a positive impact, the meal recipients on Isabel’s route look forward to seeing the bright smile she uses to greet them.
“It’s hard to be anything but happy when you’re around Isabel. She gives the warmest hugs, loves to laugh, and greets everyone she sees,” said Bjorkland-Glazman.
Thanks to her great support system, some good music, and a little bit of pizza, Isabel’s always up for a new adventure. Having down syndrome or other developmental disabilities often creates added challenges for completing everyday tasks, but that doesn’t stand in Isabel’s way. Her honesty, positive attitude, and determination allow her to embrace and successfully navigate her Meals on Wheels routes.
But Alpaugh isn’t just a volunteer at ACCA. In fact, she is also a meal recipient. Both Isabel and her late mother received meals from the program in 2020.
During the pandemic, things were looking very different for everyone. Isabel took a hiatus from delivering for her health and her mom’s health. They weren’t going places and only a few people were coming to their home. So, having someone bring meals to them weekly meant that someone would visit them and check on them, and they didn’t have to worry about those few meals. Today, Isabel volunteers weekly and picks up her own meals at the end of her route.
“She loves to have fun and is easy to be around, but she takes her work [delivering meals] very seriously,” said Bjorkland-Glazman. Being a meal recipient herself, Isabel knows just how impactful healthy meals from this program can be.
We are so grateful to Isabel for being so persistent and for helping us improve the lives of our Meals on Wheels recipients one meal at a time. At ACCA, we welcome extraordinary people from all walks of life to help create change in their community and bring a smile to our older adults’ faces. Whether it’s through our Meals on Wheels program or another program we offer, if you are interested in volunteering, please visit accaging.org for more information.