For over 20 years, volunteers of the Ashe Services for Aging home-delivered meals program have experienced the gratification of helping others as they brought meals and friendly greetings to disabled or elderly recipients, but there is always a need for helping hands – and wheels to deliver meals to approximately 70 Ashe County residents.
“These people are the sweetest in the world and so appreciative,” said Betty Ball, who has been delivering Meals-on-Wheels for around 13 years.
Ball began making her rounds through the winding back country roads after she retired from making her rounds through the hospital halls as a nurse.Though she knows every route in the county, she now makes the 57-mile trip through the Horse Creek routes, visiting 14 individuals every weekday in order to bring them lunch and some kind words.
Driving from house to house, she stopped for a few minutes and talked to each person, asking how they were doing and if they had plans for the holidays. “Some of them really like to talk,” Ball said.
At one stop, a resident gave Ball some apples, and on the way out, she said, “Some of them like to give you things, and it just tickles them to death. It makes them feel good to give you something in return.”
Several of the seniors to whom Ball delivers live alone, but when their children visit, Ball gets even more appreciation. The son of one client was visiting for a few days, and after hearing what extra lengths Ball went to for his mother, such as picking up prescriptions or getting a last-minute item from the store for her, he was very appreciative.
“He asked, ‘Betty, can I give you a hug?’ It made him so happy to know that his mother was being looked after and that she could depend on someone to be there for her,” Ball said.
Living in remote areas of the county, it would be difficult for some residents to go to the grocery store on a good day, but when the weather is bad, and the roads impassable, getting food would be a real issue. “When school is cancelled and the buses don’t run, we don’t go out,” said Ball. However, there is an alternative for inclement weather.
Ball said, “Every fall we take them two or three boxes of emergency meals. We usually take two boxes of five meals, but if it’s a bad winter, they’ll order more and we’ll take extra. They use the emergency meals when we can’t get to them.” Even if there isn’t someone there to deliver the meals, home-bound individuals know that someone is looking out for their well-being.
Sometimes clients get specialty items like bread or baked goods thanks to Lowes. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Lowes donates leftover baked goods to the home delivered meals program. “One of these little ladies just loves bread, and she tells me she will look at the loaves in the grocery store, but won’t buy them, so I bring her bread. She tells me that some of the stuff I bring her is something she never would have tried, but she loved it,” said Ball.
“Every now and then, we’ll get a cake or pie, and this one man really likes sweets. I told him that if he had five million dollars, I might have something for him. When I told him it was a cake, he said he might be able to come up with two million. He likes to joke with me like that,” said Ball.
Ball has known many of the people on her route for years, and even took care of some when she was a nurse. Experiencing the joy of giving to others does not require as much time as Ball puts in, though. Even an hour or two a few times a week could make a difference, and Ashe Services for Aging is always looking for volunteers, not just for the home delivered meals program, but for other programs as well.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Glenda Luther, Ashe County Volunteer Coordinator at (336) 246-4347.