The winter season brings the potential for challenging weather conditions including heavy snowstorms or freezing rain. This year, we are faced with the additional challenge of COVID-19. The Meals on Wheels volunteer role is not for everyone. When people apply to the Volunteer Program, they either immediately sign up to deliver meals or offer to assist in any area, but the Meals on Wheels program.
Our volunteers have been asked by friends and family why they volunteer in this capacity. Despite the diversity of our volunteer team, there is a common bond that they share. They do not see this role as a challenge, but see the benefits. We invite you to read the stories of two of our Meals on Wheels volunteers, Gary and Bernie to learn why they are so dedicated to this role.
Years before he retired from his career as a lawyer, Gary Levine knew that when he stopped working he was going to volunteer for Meals on Wheels. He had heard about the program and thought it was a great way to give back to the community. After retiring, he took a few months off to move and get settled and then was ready to volunteer. His plan was to start by doing some research on the internet, but before he could get started he read an ad in the Canadian Jewish News that the Bernard Betel Centre was looking for volunteers. Within days he had his interview, was screened for the role, and scheduled for his first shift. 7 years later he is still doing his regular Tuesday route and providing back-up assistance when needed. When the pandemic began, he knew after his first shift that the new protocols would keep him and the clients safe. He says, “Volunteering has become part of my life. I knew this role was for me and it makes me proud to help others. That is why I started and continue today.” When asked if he finds the role challenging he adds, “People are interesting and even now with COVID, when we cannot have our brief chat, I still hear “Thank You” through the door. The Meals on Wheels staff are engaged and helpful. It makes me feel good, until next week, when I do my deliveries again.”
For the past 5 years, Bernie Weitzman has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer with another agency in downtown Toronto. He was committed to 2 times per week but was looking for more volunteer opportunities. Bernie knew his friend had been volunteering with the Bernard Betel Centre and with time on his hands and wanting to do more he asked if we needed assistance. He joined our volunteer team in early January 2020 and two months later, the pandemic began. When asked if he is concerned about COVID-19, Bernie says, “Not at all. Nothing is guaranteed in life, but we have the necessary protection and everything is handled well.” Bernie delivers meals with the Bernard Betel Centre 2 times per week. “It has been great. It feels good to help others who need help. If you have time on your hands and want to help mankind – delivering meals is an easy way to do it. It does not take much training – you simply follow the instructions.”