By Amanda Boston
“It bothers me to get a call and have to tell a person we don’t serve that area,” said Jim McNeil, the president of the Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels. On April 20, McNeil’s opening remarks at the annual Meals on Wheels volunteer appreciation luncheon were a call to action as he publicized the need to expand into the Riverview area.
For 41 years, the local Meals on Wheels program has delivered hot meals to homebound persons in the Brandon, Seffner and Valrico areas. However, the Riverview area from Boyette Road and further south receives no assistance. McNeil prays that the Riverview area churches will begin participating in the program to meet the escalating needs.
The local chapter operates through the combined efforts of 19 local churches. Volunteers from the participating churches prepare and deliver about 250 hot meals per day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. The volunteers are at the core of the program, and President McNeil expressed sincere appreciation for the many hearts and hands that make a difference in the community.
Dawn Trattner from First Presbyterian Church of Brandon acted as the master of ceremonies and applauded the volunteers for their dedication and efforts to the organization. Referencing 1 Corinthians 12, a passage concerning spiritual gifts from God, Trattner said, “God, Himself is behind it all. Each person has been given something to do that shows who God is. …The variety is amazing as some of you are bakers, some of you are cooks, some of you are screeners, some of you drive, and some of you organize the lists.”
The volunteers were awarded for years of service, which included seven volunteers receiving 40-year service awards. Ray Fischer, a volunteer who performs multiple roles at several churches, was awarded special recognition for his dedication and diligence. Tony and Jean Ippolito, a husband and wife team, were awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award for their longevity and outstanding commitment to the organization. Tony, a sprightly gentleman in his mid-90s, said, ” We are thrilled to do what we do, and we’ll continue to do it while we are able to do it.”
If your church is interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels, please contact Jim McNeil at Jsmcelmc@aol.com. Donations of food, supplies and monetary funds are always welcomed. For information, please visit www.brandonmealsonwheels.com.