In April, Cindy Privette was scouting out new help for the Meals on Wheels site she coordinates at Zebulon United Methodist Church.
She was really hoping to add to her pool of local companies that help staff delivery shifts. The plan was to add a third route to address the growing need for the program, which will celebrate two successful years of operation in July.
On Wednesday, Privette invited her corporate backers to the food pantry office on Sycamore Street, where the Meals on Wheels outfit is headquartered, to show her appreciation for their involvement. That same morning marked the start of the new third route that brings the reach of the initiative up to 38 clients served daily on weekdays.
“I wanted to thank them personally for what they do and recognize that these companies are giving back to the community in a big way,” Privette said. “It’s one thing for an individual to commit. But these people commit a company and take on the responsibility of coordinating the volunteers, making sure they have someone here on the assigned days at the appropriate time, and that frees me up to work on other things. They are committed on a different level than an individual volunteer.”
Meals on Wheels delivers a fresh menu each day with warm meats and vegetables, and cold packages with items like bread, fruits and milk on the side, to people with health and mobility issues. The food is prepared out of the Meals on Wheels headquarters in Raleigh.
The new route allows the local bureau to take on eight new clients, for starters. That figure is expected to grow in the near future as more people are identified for the service.
Three Zebulon businesses – Eddins Oil Company, Comfort Master Heating and Air Conditioning and Victory Lane Quick Oil Change – have joined the delivery effort since April. But Privette’s gathering was also for companies already on the roster; Siemens, the Carolina Mudcats, Hunter Computer Solutions, Key Realty, Nomacorc and Sheetz.
“If I didn’t have the existing ones, I would have to put the new volunteers on the two routes and couldn’t add the third route,” Privette said. “It takes the existing volunteer companies being dependable.”
Siemen’s, which has a plant in Wendell, has been active in local Meals on Wheels programs for 20 years, starting with routes that formerly ran through Wendell.
Lynn Tyler-Moore, a trade show meeting and event planner at Siemens, prepares a volunteer schedule in the fall for the entire year ahead. The company has 30 volunteers – more than 10 percent of its 260 employees – who cover shifts in pairs three times per month.
“It’s good to have the support of local businesses and to be able to have the opportunity to do this,” Tyler-Moore said. “We do this on Siemens’ time and we have the personal satisfaction, too. Thirty is the most (volunteers) I’ve ever had. It was a good year this year.”
Beth Hunter represents one-third of the employee base at Hunter Computer Solutions, but she has still found time to break for a worthy cause.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small you are as a company – everyone can donate one day a month,” Hunter said. “Everyone has two hours in their schedule they can donate out of their schedule.”
Privette hopes others will take on that kind of attitude and help the program continue to grow.
“The need in the community is phenomenal,” Privette said. “We’ve been here two years and this is our third route, so maybe in two more years we’ll be able to expand again.”