Traditions. They stitch us together. They help create a sense of family and a sense of community. The Dads Club from Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills solidified a tradition this fall when a group of roughly 15 sets of dads and sons got together for the second year in a row to help seniors from Pontiac Meals on Wheels with some much-needed home maintenance and home repair projects.
The boys and dads raked leaves, trimmed trees, cleaned gutters, repaired fences and made sure the yards and homes of these seniors were in top shape.
The Dads Club meets monthly and looks for service projects that can help them bond with both with each other and with their sons. They performed some home repairs and fall clean ups for Pontiac Meals on Wheels last fall and decided to tackle the project again this year and make it an annual tradition. “This is a perfect project,” said one of the dads. “We get to teach the boys about the value of service and teach them some home repair and home maintenance skills at the same time.”
Mark Jevahirian, a member of the Dads Club, has worked with Pontiac Meals on Wheels and its parent organization, Unique Foods, for years in his role as a Certified Public Accountant. He knows firsthand what the program means to the seniors that it serves. He and his family also volunteer for the program and have made a tradition of delivering meals to homebound seniors on Thanksgiving for over 15 years. His sons have grown up doing it.
When the Dads Club was looking for a service project, Jevahirian thought about the program’s seniors, some of whom have trouble keeping up with home repair. The project was the perfect fit.
Pontiac Meals on Wheels was thrilled to have the boys and dads back again. The meal provider worked with its participants to make a list of seniors that needed some help. They quickly had a list of seniors in need and projects that needed to be done, and a fall Saturday was soon on the books.
The day of the event, the dads and sons met for breakfast at the Pontiac Meals on Wheels office and then sorted themselves into teams. They grabbed rakes, shovels, gloves, lawn and leaf bags (even chain saws) and set off to work on a chilly morning. The teams spent about two hours at the homes of the six seniors. By morning’s end, yards were transformed and homes were made safe again.
The Meals on Wheels recipients were thrilled with the results. One participant, an 83-year who has lived in her neighborhood for decades, was relieved to see a low-hanging branch cut from where it had been hanging on top of her roof. The branch had been a constant worry—threatening the integrity of her roof and her home.
“That’s not something I could have done myself, and I did not have anyone else to do if for me,” she explained. “I used to keep my yard in tip-top shape. I used to even help my neighbors when they needed it. But I just can’t do it anymore.” An injury several years ago left her homebound and she now depends on her weekday Meals on Wheels delivery to help keep her safe and in her own home. She no longer has family in the area since her husband passed away. A daughter lives on the west side of the state, but has trouble getting over since her own husband developed a chronic illness.
The service project demonstrates how Meals on Wheels is about so much more than delivering a daily meal. The program is a safety net for many frail and homebound seniors. The Meals on Wheels driver who comes to the door may be the only person that they see that day. The program brings hot food and a warm smile to their doorstep–making sure they have something to eat, someone to talk to and someone to check in on them every weekday. Drivers often step in to help when they see something amiss. And Meals on Wheels providers, like Pontiac Meals on Wheels, often serve as a connection to other critical community resource and services. This service project no doubt probably helped some of these seniors stay living in their homes by making sure unsafe situations were remedied.
The Brother Rice Dads Club is planning on continuing the tradition. They will be back next fall to help the older adults who depend on Pontiac Meals on Wheels.
The Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B) is thankful to community members like the Brother Rice Dads Club who go out of their way to help seniors in need. And we are proud to help fund and manage the Meals on Wheels program in the six-county region of southeast Michigan that we serve (Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties). Pontiac Meals on Wheels is one of 13 local providers we partner with to help bring Meals on Wheels to the doors of seniors.
If you are looking for ways you might help as well, the AAA 1-B is in need of donations to fund its Meals on Wheels deliveries on the holidays. While federal and state dollars help provide funding for Meals on Wheels deliveries on the weekdays, there is no government funding for holiday deliveries. We depend on donations from the community to help make sure that seniors in communities like yours are not hungry or alone on the holidays.
Donations help make sure a hot, festive meal and a friendly volunteer will be at the door of the seniors who depend on us and our providers. Holiday meals are delivered on Thanksgiving Day, Hanukkah, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Passover and Easter. Many of the seniors we serve do not have family or friends to share the holidays with and it’s critical that a driver be at their door to share the joy of the holidays and help them feel connected and cared for.
A gift of $7 will help provide a meal for one senior. A gift of $50 will bring a holiday meal to the door of seven seniors in your community. Over 8,000 meals are needed this holiday season–from Thanksgiving through the spring holidays of Easter and Passover. To donate to the Area Agency on Aging 1-B Holiday Meals on Wheels Program visit aaa1b.org/donate.
Thank you again to the Brother Rice Dads Club. You are a wonderful example of a community that cares.