Volunteers Continue to Make A Difference at Wheeling Township
April is National Volunteer Month, and even though many of Wheeling Township's volunteers reduced their service hours due to the pandemic, the Township still benefitted from many individuals, groups and businesses who remained committed to helping others in need throughout a challenging year.
Like many other organizations, the Township's numerous volunteer opportunities were severely tested by the initial lockdown and social distancing, but key programs and services such as the Food Pantry, Home Delivered Meals and Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) still pressed on, undeterred. In some instances, service delivery looked a little different, but for the commitment and concern for residents in need remained the priority.
"As we all waited and watched, especially during the early days of the pandemic, Township volunteers reached out to see how they might be able to help," said Wheeling Township Supervisor Kathleen Penner. "I never cease to be amazed at how willing residents of this community are to help others."
Thankfully, the Home Delivered Meals Program lost very few volunteers, partially due to new COVID-19 delivery rules that were instituted. Last year there were 11,371 meals delivered by volunteers through the Home Delivered Meals Program to homebound seniors over 60 years of age (and disabled individuals over 18). Through this program, freshly prepared meals are delivered five days a week. The Township works with more than 300 community volunteers, as well as 25 churches that deliver during an assigned month.
The Township Food Pantry also faced many challenges last year. Throughout 2020, 11,747 people were fed (2,822 of which were children under the age of 18). Plans are in place to fully reopen the Food Pantry for clients to come in and shop, which is a hallmark of this Township offering. The planned reopening date is June 1, 2020 when volunteers would return, along with safety procedures and protocols in place.
Virtual assistance for Township residents evolved during the pandemic, including for the SHIP program. The Township's six volunteers assisted more than 300 clients (virtually) during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period when recipients can choose new drug plans. The Township's volunteer Senior Advisory Board also capitalized on virtual technology to present monthly programs, as did volunteers who assisted the visually impaired through the Township's VIP Book Club.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, volunteers with "green thumbs" donated fresh homegrown produce to the Food Pantry, and over the holidays, hundreds of volunteers, groups and businesses contributed bountiful food baskets at Thanksgiving or gift cards for the Adopt-A-Family Holiday Program, that added some joy at a time when so many were challenged in different ways.
For more information about available Food Pantry shifts, contact Director of General Assistance Julie Villarreal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on how to volunteer for the Home Delivered Meal Program, contact Director of Senior/Disability Services, Lynndah Lahey at email@example.com.