Reporter: Ellie Mahan
August 18, 2021
Founded in 1967, Meals on Wheels Waco is a nonprofit agency that works to nurture the bodies and spirits of older adults in Waco as well as Hill, Falls and McLennan counties. Rebecca Church, Laguna Park resident and former site manager for Meals on Wheels in Whitney, is now a homeschool teacher to her three daughters. When she is not teaching her daughters about math, science, history or English, Rebecca teaches her children lessons of compassion by encouraging them to participate in Meals on Wheels.
Rebecca volunteered with her grandmother in the 90s. She was inspired to begin volunteering again when she read a biblical story about how feeding the hungry and helping people in trouble can ease feelings of depression and make personal problems feel smaller.
“It reminded me of volunteering with my grandmother in the 90s, so I contacted the site manager at the time in Whitney. She said she needed volunteers, and she put me on her route almost immediately,” Rebecca said.
About three weeks after she began volunteering with Meals on Wheels again, Rebecca was appointed the site manager, a position she held for about three years, until her youngest daughter began kindergarten. Rebecca said her favorite part of volunteering is finding new friends in the people she serves and seeing her daughters, who are ages 10, 8 and 6, join in.
“At this point now, I don’t even really deliver meals. I’m just the driver; my children deliver the meals, and the elderly people just really love that. They love seeing the kids and getting to interact with them and getting to hug children,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca’s oldest daughter, McKenna Church, likes to bake special treats for the seniors.
McKenna said, “I like helping people, and there are a lot of nice people on the route that are like grandmas and grandpas to me.”
Rebecca said delivering meals and hanging out with the people at the senior center is something her daughters look forward to every Tuesday. The family does crafts for the seniors, and because one client loves puzzles, they visit garage sales and thrift stores to hunt for puzzles to bring her.
“It teaches them compassion for elderly. I feel like the elderly are kind of thrown to the side in our society these days. They put them in nursing homes and kind of forget about them. Meals on Wheels gives these elderly people an opportunity to stay in their home longer and have more independence, and our children are seeing that independence is good and that these people have the freedom to live their lives also,” Rebecca said.
To fill out a volunteer form, visit https://mowwaco.org/volunteer/ , or call the Waco office at 254-752-0316 to learn more information. Potential volunteers must undergo background checks and an interview process to ensure the safety of Meals On Wheels Waco clients.
“We need volunteers constantly, especially in our area. Because of COVID, a lot of people are scared to volunteer. We lost a lot of volunteers last year,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca remembers when she volunteered with her grandmother in the 90s and how different the Meals On Wheels volunteering process was.
“We actually volunteered over here in Laguna Park in the 90s, and all of the ladies would go into the kitchen, and they would just whip up a big meal. They would portion it out, and we would stick it in the trunk and drive around to everybody,” Rebecca said.
Now, people cook the meals in Waco and send them to Whitney and other towns prepackaged. This is a bonus for new volunteers because no cooking is required. Volunteers simply deliver meals and try to raise the spirits of the seniors in the community.
Rebecca said, “You just have to have a valid driver’s license to be able to drive around and a compassionate heart.”
Meals On Wheels Whitney meets at Lake Whitney Senior Center, Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and is always looking for new friendly faces to help out.