By Nicholas Johnsen
Though known to many as a college town, Tempe is also home to a growing elderly and disabled population, many of whom require assistance with day-to-day tasks such as preparing meals and otheseemingly routine chores. Good help, some have found, can be hard to come by.
For the entire month of March, Tempe Community Action Agency is participating in the “March for Meals” program, in partnership with Meals on Wheels.
Through March for Meals, TCAA is looking for dedicated volunteers to help deliver prepared food to senior and disabled individuals without the financial means to employ such help themselves.
One volunteer with TCAA with whom we spoke was Shari Hamblin, a textbook example of a good Samaritan. Hamblin has been volunteering with TCAA delivering meals for over 12 years now, each year more impactful than the rest.
When asked why she’s put in so much time, Hamblin had one response: The people.
“I feel like we’re doing good for them, and I love working with people. I’m partial.”
Hamblin went on to describe a normal day of volunteering. She picks up her deliveries and her usual list, gasses up, and sets out. About two hours later, 12 meals have been sent off, 12 days more enjoyable and 12 lives much brighter.
To better understand why volunteers like Hamblin are tackling this problem head on and how important the work is, TCAA Executive Director Deborah Arteaga weighed in. Arteaga explained that nearly 85 percent of Tempe’s senior citizenship is stressed financially in some way or another.
“They’re struggling to pay for the kind of care that they need. Some tell us they skip medications or take smaller doses to try and stretch one out.”
The kind of care Arteaga is talking about is often expensive and out of reach for many who still need help, so TCAA steps in where it can.
Arteaga also explained that, through Tempe Neighbors Helping Neighbors, TCAA will be seeking to expand its provided elderly and disabled care to helping with things such as trips to the doctor or the grocery store, or maintenance around the house. With this upcoming expansion and the warmer, busier meal delivery season around the corner, both Hamblin and Arteaga expressed the same concern for more help.
As an opportunity to assist those in need and develop lasting relationships at the same time, March for Meals seems to be as good as it gets.
For more information on how to get involved in the Home-Delivered Meal Program, contact TCAA at www.tempeaction.org/volunteer. Meal carriers must have a reliable car, proof of a current Arizona driver’s license, clean driving record, auto insurance and pass a background check.
Mileage reimbursements are also available for drivers.