PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 20, 2014

Volunteers, local leaders deliver Meals on Wheels

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — Smiling, Joy Gardiner opened the door to allow visitors into her Port Neches home.

Port Neches City Councilwoman Julie Gauthier stepped inside carrying two Styrofoam trays of food — one for Joy, and one for Harry, Joy’s husband. Gauthier carried the trays to the living room, where Harry sat in an armchair watching Fox News.

“Make room, Harry,” Joy Gardiner said, moving items around to clear a space for the meal on the table beside her husband’s chair.

Harry Gardiner smiled as Gauthier handed the trays to him.

“Thank you,” he exclaimed.

Joy and Harry Gardiner are just two of nearly 1,200 homebound senior citizens and disabled adults in Jefferson and Hardin counties who benefit from the work of the Nutrition and Services for Seniors — which, through the Meals on Wheels program, delivers warm, healthy meals directly to the doorstep of those unable to leave their homes for nourishment.

On Thursday, as part of Community Champions Week — during which local city leaders participate in the organization’s March for Meals campaign — Gauthier made the rounds with volunteer Kathleen Williams and controller Andrea Deaton, personally delivering the meals to members of her community.

“It’s always good to see the older residents in our city and appreciate what they do,” Gauthier said.

It isn’t all about food, however. Often times, the organization receives calls from out-of-town family members requesting that they pop in and check on their elderly relative.

“It’s not just eating, but also visiting and seeing if they’re OK,” Deaton said. “It’s such a peace of mind for family members who may live out of town.”

Interaction is also key, Deaton said. Many times, the Meals on Wheels volunteers may be the only other person the senior citizen sees that day.

It’s also more cost effective than moving into an assisted-living facility, Deaton said.

“It’s so much less expensive to stay in your own home instead of going into assisted living,” she said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA