Butler County Times Gazette
  • Courtney Jackson volunteers with Meals on Wheels

  • As Courtney Jackson walked down a hall at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Thursday morning, several Meals on Wheels volunteers stopped to talk to her.
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  • As Courtney Jackson walked down a hall at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Thursday morning, several Meals on Wheels volunteers stopped to talk to her.
    Those who spoke with Jackson told her they had enjoyed getting to know her and would miss her.
    "This is my last day," said Jackson, the Meals on Wheels program's youngest volunteer.
    After attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) camp at K-State earlier this summer, she was looking for ways to start accumulating the 100 volunteer hours required by the HOBY program.
    One of her mom's co-workers suggested Meals on Wheels.
    Jackson, who will be a junior at Flinthills High School this year, decided to give it a try.
    The regular Meals on Wheels volunteers, who are all much older than Jackson, were surprised to see her.
    "I think they like seeing younger kids," she said. "There's no one younger (delivering). It's just them. I get here around 10:30 because that's when the normal volunteers get coffee. It's fun to sit and listen to them talk."
    Although she was nervous at first, one woman on her route made the task a little easier.
    "The first time I did it she talked with me and helped," said Jackson. "She was so nice. All of them enjoy chatting a lot. It's fun."
    Jackson, who spent about a month volunteering for Meals on Wheels this summer, plans to come back during school breaks and again next summer.
    "I have a permanent route Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," she said. "I sub on Tuesday when they need me."
    Her summer route included eight stops to deliver nine meals.
    "I like the interaction with all the new people I've met," she said. "It's taught me a lot of responsibility."
    Jackson, who is involved with 4-H and plans to start volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, hopes to see more young volunteers for Meals on Wheels.
    "Maybe college kids when they're not in school could volunteer," she said. "They do need a lot of help."
    Diane Heilman-Felt, director of nutrition services and pastoral care at SBA, agreed.
    "We always need more volunteers," she said. "This week we sent out a memo to everybody at the hospital, 'Hey do you want to give your lunch to Meals on Wheels.'"
    Meals on Wheels has 11 routes, which requires a minimum of 11 volunteers each day.
    "I think it's really important for the community because of the people that we serve," said Heilman-Felt. "We do a survey for our clients and 90 percent of them say if it wasn't for Meals on Wheels, they wouldn't be able to stay in their home."
    Page 2 of 2 - Meals on Wheels delivers anywhere from 85 to 100 meals a day to elderly El Dorado residents.
    "It provides them with one nutritious meal five days a week and face to face contact with another human," Heilman-Felt said, "which I think is really important."
    For more information about the Meals on Wheels volunteer application process, call 316-322-4573.
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