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Salt Lake County volunteers deliver meals to homebound seniors

MILLCREEK — Rosemary Alder, a 92-year-old Millcreek resident, credits a local volunteer program for saving her life.

Alder lives alone, and she's enrolled in Salt Lake County's Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers hot meals to seniors who struggle to leave their homes without assistance.

In a letter to county leaders, Alder recalls the day she suffered a fall when she was alone in her home and couldn't get up. But she knew she would be OK, because she knew Debbie Morrison, her Meals on Wheels volunteer, would knock on her door soon.

Sure enough, Alder said, Morrison found her. Two months later ,Alder would recover from her injuries. During her stay at the hospital, Alder said Morrison visited her and brought flowers.

"What a fantastic person, and what a great organization," Alder wrote. "Meals on Wheels (is) the reason (I'm) still alive."

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams highlighted the program Monday, helping to deliver hot meals to dozens of homebound seniors.

"Just that touch, that opportunity, for volunteers to be in a home and helping our seniors with the small things is so important," McAdams said. "And so what it does is it helps our seniors continue to live independently in their homes longer because they have that sometimes daily checkup with a meal and a visit from somebody who cares."

Becky Kapp, director of Salt Lake County's Aging and Adult Services, said the program, which began in 1965, now serves more than 1,500 seniors. Each senior receives an average of three meals a week, and the program delivers more than 32,000 meals a month, she said.

"If they need seven meals a week, we give them seven a week," Kapp said. "Our mission is to provide the services and resources so these seniors can age in their homes and not have to go to other facilities. Meals on Wheels contributes to that success."

Last year, the county delivered more than 380,000 meals, and roughly 106,000 of those meals were delivered by volunteers, Kapp said. This year, the delivery count is expected to rise by nearly 10,000 deliveries, she said.

McAdams said the program has been able to grow without an increase of county funds thanks to volunteer involvement.

"Within the same dollar amount of what we've paid in the past, we're able to do so much more because of volunteers," McAdams said. "We live in such a wonderful community that gives service and cares for others, and Meals on Wheels is a great way for people to serve others. And as much as I think these seniors get out of this program, a real benefit goes to the volunteers who are giving service."

Mark Ingersoll of Intermountain Claims, a local Millcreek business that has helped deliver for Meals on Wheels for eight years, said he and his employees have formed close friendships through the program.

He said once a week, employees use their lunch hour at work to make their deliveries.

"There's hardly a week goes by that somebody doesn't come in and tell a story about (delivering for) Meals on Wheels," Ingersoll said. "It makes a big difference to them, but it also makes a big difference to us. We feel like we're giving back, so it's a win-win, it really is."

McAdams encouraged other local businesses or residents to get involved with the program.

"More businesses and volunteers signing up to deliver meals means more homebound seniors get nutritious meals, friendship and an important safety check from the people making deliveries," he said.

For more information about Meals on Wheels, visit slco.org.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com