For Marie Faircloth, delivering meals to senior citizens is like a ministry — and she’s looking forward to more people helping out.
“I’m so excited about the program and I just want it to grow and do better,” said Faircloth, director of the Garland Senior Center.
During the workweek, about 30 homebound meals are delivered to seniors. The center depends solely on volunteers to deliver meals.
“The only way we can do it is to have volunteers,” Faircloth said. “It’s so hard to get volunteers. But we do pretty well here at the Garland Senior Center.”
If there’s not enough volunteers, Faircloth said the center’s frozen meal program will allow recipients to stock up for a couple of weeks.
“That works wonderful,” she said about the alternative.
Faircloth also directs the Butler Court Senior Center in Clinton, which has more than 50 meals delivered each day. The Clinton location depends on churches to assist.
“But it’s getting to the point where the people volunteering are too old to do it and the younger people don’t have time,” Faircloth said about the number of people decreasing.
It would take a volunteer between 30 and 40 minutes to do a meal ride, equipped with directions to about 10 stops.
“It’s not a hardship there if we can get people to come in and volunteer,” she said.
Faircloth said the program helps seniors receive a nutritious meal if they’re confined to living spaces.
“The most important thing is making sure these seniors are getting a well balanced meal,” she said. “For some of them, that may be the only meal they get during the day.
She also stressed that a lot of people are alone or don’t have an aide available when it’s time to eat. Faircloth even recalled a time when a volunteer discovered someone was sick and assisted with medial assistance.
The meal program is one of several programs available to help seniors. Faircloth described the center as a “home away from home” for seniors. It partners with health agencies and organizations to assist seniors. She encourages anyone with interest to visit and learn about services.
“There’s a lot of people who’ve told us recently that they didn’t know that all of these programs exist,” Faircloth said.
The center recently finished programs focused on diabetes sessions and “matter of balance,” a session focused on energy prevention. Free basic computer classes are scheduled to start in September with the instruction from a Sampson Community College professor.
Through a health program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Garland location also received a grant to build a community garden. Seeds, fertilizer and other needs are provided for the garden.
“We benefited greatly,” Faircloth said. “It helps people with eating more healthy.”
The centers are also preparing for National Senior Center Month is September. It gives senior locations the opportunities to promote positive images of aging. “Find Balance at Your Center” is the theme for 2016.
For more information about volunteering or other programs in Garland, contact Faircloth at 910-529-3931 or 910-596-8246. In Clinton, officials may be reached at 910-592-5604. Linda Armwood at the Sampson County Department of Aging may be reached at 910-592-4653. Donations are also being accepted through the department.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.