SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — As we highlight hunger awareness in our region, we look at the fast-growing eastern panhandle of West Virginia where community support is playing a big role in getting food delivered to households that depend on a helping hand from generous volunteers.
Dianne Waldron’s day starts at 7 a.m. in a downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia kitchen with dedicated volunteers cooking, packing, loading and driving. She runs the Berkeley County Meals on Wheels program.
“Recipients are home-bound,” Waldron said. “They’re isolated. They don’t have a lot of family support, and receiving that meal from a trusted volunteer driver is something they look forward to everyday.”
Beverly Hughes runs the Women Investing in Shepherd (WISH) Foundation, housed at nearby Shepherd University. It involves 250 volunteers and supports a wide range of community non-profits. Her family has volunteered at Meals on Wheels for 30 years, so she knew first-hand the positive impact it has on helping the hungry.
“I have been very aware of the need and what they do for so, so many families and individuals,” said Hughes.
Linda Barnhart recently retired as a manufacturing sales executive and had the time for volunteer work. She sees meals delivered to homes where it is the only meal they have that day.
“They may have to forego buying groceries to pay their rent so that they have housing,” said Barnhart.
The WISH Foundation grant is especially appreciated in Berkeley County, the fastest growing county in all of West Virginia. Getting those thousand meals delivered weekly takes its toll on ovens, a 70-year-old mixer, pots and pans.
“We have doubled the amount of people we have delivered to. That grant is going to go a long way to helping our kitchen staff so that we can continue our mission,” said Waldron.
It is a mission that makes an important difference to help alleviate hunger in the region.
The Meals on Wheels program not only helps the hungry get nutrition, the volunteers who deliver may be the only social interaction for the recipient that day. The delivery also serves as a “well-check” at the home.