An extra serving of seasonal warmth

Hackel helps deliver Meals on Wheels, volunteers needed

By: Sara Kandel | C&G Newspapers | Published December 14, 2012

 Sue Polachowski, of Washington Township, answers the door to Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who was delivering lunch to her mom for the Meals on Wheels program on Dec. 12.

Sue Polachowski, of Washington Township, answers the door to Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who was delivering lunch to her mom for the Meals on Wheels program on Dec. 12.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MACOMB COUNTY —Teaming up with a Meals on Wheels volunteer, County Executive Mark Hackel delivered warm meals to more than a dozen unsuspecting seniors in Sterling Heights and Warren on Dec. 12.

“Our chief executive! What an honor,” exclaimed 81-year-old Warren resident Louis Joseph when he saw Hackel standing at his door.

Joseph’s response was right on par for the day.

“This is a surprise,” said 96-year-old Sterling Heights resident Lydia Festian, who smiled when she opened her door to Hackel, who presented her with a warm meal, candy cane and season’s greetings.

“I’m very, very thankful for all that Meals on Wheels has meant to me because I do get around very slowly,” Festian said. “It sure is a pleasure to have it, and I enjoy it.”

With heartfelt thanks offered by so many of the program’s recipients, it’s easy to see the program’s value in the community.

“You’ve got people that are in their homes and really can’t get out and about, or they just can’t find a family member or relative to get them out there, so it’s great to have the support, from the people who are willing to do this and from Meals on Wheels, to bring them their meals,” Hackel said.

Joseph has been utilizing the Meals on Wheels program for a little more than a year. His daughter Denise spoke about the impact the program has had in their household.

“It helped my mom before she passed on, and now it helps dad out quite a bit,” Denise Joseph explained, while her father chatted with Hackel. “It’s helped provide about one hot meal a day, and it took a lot of the burden off of me because I am just learning how to cook since mom died. The (Meals on Wheels) food is good and well-balanced.”

Volunteer Bill Hafner was happy to have the chance to talk with Joseph for a short while before continuing on the route; it’s one of his favorite things about volunteering with the program.

“I enjoy getting with the people and talking to them,” said Hafner, a 70-year-old Sterling Heights resident, who’s been delivering for Meals on Wheels twice a week for about eight years. “Most of the time, you aren’t there long enough to get a really good conversation, but every now and then something happens and they really want to talk and that’s when I really enjoy it.”

Hackel has delivered for Meals on Wheels in the past, but especially at this time of year, when they need volunteers more than ever, he wanted to help out again.

“I’ve done the Meals on Wheels program before,” he said. “But what we are trying to do is highlight some attention to this because they are going to need some more volunteers during the winter months. We are trying to drum up more volunteers.”

Meals on Wheels services approximately 2,000 seniors a year throughout Macomb County and serves on average 470 hot meals a day. 

“We do about 85 home delivered meals a day out of this location,” said Nicole Urban, the program coordinator for the Macomb County Senior Nutrition Program, who met Hackel at a pick-up location in Sterling Heights. “There is certainly a demand for Meals on Wheels here in Sterling Heights. We just can’t seem to keep up with it, and we need all the volunteers we can get.”

Volunteers must have their own transportation and a valid driver’s license. They are offered mileage compensation for their route, but Urban said most don’t want it.

“I think maybe about 25 percent of them request mileage reimbursement, but the rest don’t, so they’re donating not only their time, but also their mileage, as their gift to the community,” she added.

For more information on volunteering for or qualifying for Meals on Wheels, call (586) 469-5228.