A warm meal is a hallmark of the holiday season. Many of us host family and friends in our homes, some help deliver baskets of food items to people in need, and still others volunteer their time to serve with local charities like The Mission or Shepherds of Good Hope.
Ottawa retiree Bruce Muise is no stranger to the power of a nutritious meal, because he has dedicated himself to making deliveries for Meals on Wheels for the past decade. Inspired by his own father who volunteered for Meals on Wheels for over fifteen years, Bruce began helping the organization when his dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I started taking time off of work each week to drive Dad around on his route, but it got to the point when he couldn’t walk anymore, so I took over.” It turned out to be a great fit for Bruce, whose own grandmother had been a recipient of Meals on Wheels.
“You’re giving people something they actually physically need—a hot meal,” explains Bruce. “Plus I like driving and I like helping people, so it’s a good match.”
The biggest challenge Bruce and other Meals on Wheels volunteers face is ensuring that the food—which includes a soup, a main meal, a dessert and a fruit—arrives hot. “At minus 20 you’re doing this out of the back of your car, so you have to move,” he says with a laugh. “But nothing stops us, not snowstorms or cold or ice—we’re going to deliver these meals no matter what.”
Bruce also notes that the delivery of meals is about more than just providing food. “I’d say 75% is about a warm meal, and 25% is about human contact. Those 15–20 words you exchange might keep that person going for another day.”
In fact, Bruce builds his route around who needs the most interaction. “Sometimes you have someone who really likes to chat, so you’ll save that person for last so you have the extra time for conversation because you know that’s important to them.”
Not only does Bruce keep an eye out for the overall well-being of his clients, he knows that it’s the only hot meal most of them will get in a day. “They appreciate it, and I feel like I’m making a difference with every visit.”
For more information on how you can help Meals on Wheels in the Ottawa region, please visit: www.mealsonwheels-ottawa.org