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On the Road: A Story of Connection, Caring, and Feeding the Vulnerable During COVID-19

When the pandemic hit, Vera and her husband Russ knew they wanted to do something to help. 

We saw what was happening in the province, with so many families unable to visit loved ones in long-term care, as well as for all the first responders and front-line workers who were already overworked and about to get swamped and or sick themselves,” says Vera. “We felt the need to do something to help out, but what could we possibly offer that would alleviate some of this situation?” 

As a retired couple, Vera and Russ dedicated most of their time to helping their children and grandchildren. But after the pandemic started, Vera and Russ found themselves isolating away from their family to protect each other’s safety. When Circle of Care posted a request for Meals on Wheels volunteers to the Canadian Volunteering website, Vera and Russ immediately offered to help. 

Vera and Russ outside

Vera and Russ, two active volunteers committed to helping others by delivering Meals on Wheels.

“We guessed they needed help because many Meals on Wheels volunteers likely were older adults themselves. We’re retired and our health isn’t compromised, so we offered our assistance,” says Vera. 

But there was one challenge they had to overcome for several months: driving a total of four hours to get to Toronto and back from their cottage each time they volunteered. 

“We had already committed to giving one of our sons and his family our house while their home was being renovated,” says Vera. “Our relatively long commute just encouraged us to add more clients to our delivery route.”

Vera found a strong connection to Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels clientele after she learned that many of the clients are Holocaust Survivors. Vera’s own parents, now deceased, were Holocaust Survivors themselves.

“I did try to find other volunteer opportunities within the area, but found Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels program first and was delighted to see that it serves the Jewish community as well,” says Vera. “Then unexpectedly, we had the Holocaust Survivor client connection, and it all just resonated with me. Those moments of client connection bring back warm memories of my beloved parents.”

The total four hour drive to and from their cottage became no issue for them compared to the response and heartfelt thanks they received each time they delivered a meal. 

“Each delivery is its own reward,” says Russ. “Though it’s often just a face through a crack in the door, the smiles we receive and the expressions of thanks demonstrate tremendous feelings of gratitude. It’s at these moments that we receive the rewards for our efforts.” 

The couple is committed to giving back to the community by staying with Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels program, setting examples to their children and grandchildren. 

“We both had parents who modelled taking care of others. We always tried to model that for our kids and are relieved that they are doing the same with theirs,” says Vera. “One person’s small and seemingly insignificant act can make a real positive difference in another’s life.”

For Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels clients, these weekly deliveries are a lifeline. Many have very few options for food, and the meals they receive through the program form the backbone of their daily nutrition and sustenance. Thanks to volunteers like Vera and Russ, these clients can eat well-balanced meals and always know that there’s a meal waiting for them in their freezer to heat up and eat. 

Circle of Care currently has a variety of open volunteer opportunities, including Meals on Wheels, for adults and students. If you or someone you may know is interested in volunteering and connecting with older adults visit our Volunteer page for more details and to register!