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A Meal, A Smile, and Peace of Mind

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July 28, 2017 | By Brandi Flynn

Meals on Wheels of Peters Township relies on more than 200 volunteers over the course of a year to make their program possible. Ginny Barnicoat has been a volunteer at Meals on Wheels of Peters Township for the past six years. She was inspired to begin volunteer work there after listening to touching stories from other volunteers.

Barnicoat works as a meal delivery driver and runs about a 30-mile route throughout the rural countryside of Finleyville. A day in her life as a volunteer begins when she picks up the food that has been prepared at the Meals on Wheels kitchen. These are hot meals that consist of a dinner entrée with a starch and vegetable, salad, dessert, milk, and a hot cup of soup. Some recipients also receive a sandwich, juice, and cookie for a light second meal. Barnicoat loads up her vehicle then quickly heads off on her delivery route of about 10 houses. Barnicoat says she is always careful to allow herself plenty of time to make sure that she will be able to spend time visiting with the meal recipients, whom she describes as grateful and ready to socialize.

"The recipients are tremendously appreciative," said Barnicoat. "This makes living independently possible for them, and they are really grateful. For out-of-town family members of the clients, Meals on Wheels gives the peace of mind that someone is checking on their loved one daily, in addition to providing nutritious meals."

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George, Mary, and John are always happy to see Meals on Wheels volunteer Ginny Barnicoat as she delivers the meals on her route.

Barnicoat says she wishes the general public understood the great need for the Meals on Wheels program locally. The meal recipients come from diverse situations with regards to their age, medical challenges, and economic situation that require them to rely on the Meals on Wheels program.

Donna and Roger were two of Barnicoat's most memorable meal recipients. Roger had heart trouble and was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's, and his wife Donna worked as his caregiver. Despite their difficulties in life, Barnicoat says the couple was always pleasant and very appreciative of the Meals on Wheels program, and they especially loved when children were involved in their deliveries.

Students of Peters Township school district support the Meals on Wheels program and have volunteered to make blankets, cards, place mats, and cookies to be delivered to the meal recipients.

"Our clients' faces would brighten as they read the cards from the elementary school kids," said Barnicoat. "They always noticed and loved the spelling errors."

Barnicoat describes the Meals on Wheels program as a community service. The school district is involved, as well as many community citizens, like herself, who volunteer. Barnicoat says that the loving helpers who spend their time volunteering in the community are what really define the Meals on Wheels program.

"For many, the Meals on Wheels delivery person is the only person the recipients see all day," said Barnicoat. "They hunger for someone to talk to as much as for the delicious meal."