“You are our knights and ladies in shining armor…jeopardizing your health and your families’ health each time you step foot in our door.”Marilyn Simmons, CASS Meals on Wheels client
Our Employees Have Shown Courage
In the decades since being founded, CASS has developed a reputation for being committed to our clients, even delivering meals to them during snowstorms. The pandemic, however, has challenged us like never before. Initially, we wondered how we’d meet the need. But our front-line employees have amazed us with their commitment.
At a time when home delivery of food is more important than ever, our employees have exhibited what it means to care deeply about other people. Like a firefighter running toward danger, our Meals on Wheels drivers haven’t hesitated to continue delivering meals to people’s homes. Instead, they have shown courage — and they continue to do so — working more hours than ever to meet the increased demand. In 2020, we delivered about 400,000 meals to older adults.
“If we don’t deliver the meals,” said Terry Carter, one of our long-time drivers, “these seniors don’t eat.”
“I’m not Superman or a hero. I’m just doing the job I was paid to do.”James Roper, Meals on Wheels driver
Compassion Motivates Our Employees
The danger is personal to us. Several CASS employees have contracted the virus. Nevertheless, almost every CASS employee, even those with office jobs, has pitched in to deliver meals to deal with staff shortages and the increased demand.
Our meal deliveries have increased more than 30%. More seniors have requested meals because it’s risky for them to leave their homes. Additionally, we’re delivering meals to seniors who previously ate at our congregate meal sites, most of which are closed. And during the pandemic, to minimize the spread of the virus, we’ve been asked to deliver to younger people, including families, who are COVID-19 positive.
Driver James Roper has had friends and relatives tell him he’s “doing God’s work.”
But Meals on Wheels is about more than food. It’s a way to check on seniors who have become even more isolated due to the pandemic. The only other person some of them see each week is the mail carrier. “To have someone stop by – to bring food – is a major blessing to them,” Carter said.
“Our employees have huge hearts and a passion for the people they serve,” said Tracey Collins, Chief Executive Officer of CASS. “They understand what it means to have limited access to food. These seniors are their neighbors, their friends. That’s why, our drivers do these jobs even under extremely difficult conditions.”
Our Staff Worries More About Seniors Than Themselves
Our social workers are in danger, too. They meet with seniors in their homes to help them with the complicated details of their lives, including personal finances, medical insurance, legal issues and more.
It’s rare for our clients to have access to video conferencing technology, such as Zoom, to help communicate with their CASS social workers. And there’s only so much help social workers can provide on the phone. So, it’s important we spend some time with them in person, too.
“The higher the isolation, the more my clients are struggling,” said CASS social worker Joe Herbers. He has seen more depression in his clients since the pandemic started.
Even though he’s met with clients with COVID-19, Herbers thinks his risk is low because he’s young — with no health problems — and he’s taking precautions. “I’m way more worried about my clients than I am about myself.”
The Association for Professionals in Aging honored CASS with its 2020 Heroes Award for our service during the pandemic.
Page created Dec. 28, 2020