BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Aging Matters in Brevard County is in desperate need of volunteers for its Meals on Wheels program.
If they do not get help, more than 100 seniors may go without weekly lunches on which they rely.
What You Need To Know
- The nonprofit needs about 50 drivers for its Meals on Wheels program
- If it doesn't get them, some seniors will miss weekly safety checks with meals
- One volunteer, Don Whitney, said he loves interacting with clients
- Those interested in volunteering should visit the Aging Matters website
Aging Matters is a private non-profit organization that provides services and seniors to seniors.
One volunteer, Don Whitney, has traveled the world, both serving in the military and with his wife for vacations.
During one trip through the Suez Canal, the trip became all but relaxing.
"The captain comes on and says, ‘Get in the aisles, get in your staterooms, and lay down. We're being chased by pirates. We're being shot at.’ Of course, I got up and looked out the window," Whitney said, laughing.
That instinct served him well in the Air Force. Instead of running from trouble, the meteorologist flew into it as a hurricane hunter.
"Ended up being the biggest storm I was ever in, over 200 miles an hour," Whitney said. "Had to keep the airplane in a bank, stay in the eye. I loved it. I was hooked."
He ended his 29-year career ranked as a colonel at Patrick Space Force Base.
But in his retirement, he is now serving in another way for the past two decades as a volunteer for Brevard County’s Meals on Wheels program.
Every Wednesday, he heads to the Azan Shriner Center in Melbourne, where he and the volunteer team pick up the pre-made meals to deliver to seniors in need.
The nonprofit has hit hard times of late. A COVID-19 pandemic-era grant that funded route drivers is expiring.
At full strength, 725 drivers fan out across the county. Right now, there are 675.
That means Meals on Wheels needs 50 drivers in Palm Bay alone, or it will have to shut down those routes.
More than 100 senior shut-ins would then only receive frozen meals twice a month.
"Those that go on frozen, it's really not a satisfier because we aren't getting that one-on-one touch that we need, and that safety check because a frozen meal box is for a two-week cycle, so we're not doing what we need to do," according to Aging Matters in Brevard Chief Executive Officer Tom Kammerdener. "We are still feeding them, but we're not getting that safety check the way we need to."
Whitney said he loves interacting with his clients. He makes sure they are healthy and not hungry.
And it doesn't take much time to volunteer.
"It's a win-win situation," he said. People want meals, and people making them want them delivered, so you can't lose."
Those interested in volunteering should visit the Aging Matters website.