For Lizbet Negron, carrying hot meals to older residents across Amherst is a fun way to spend time with friends and meet new people.
“I just like seeing a lot of different places,” she said.
But for about 30 shut-ins in the city and surrounding rural areas who need Meals on Wheels, the service is a lifeline.
Every Thursday, a group from the county agency for people with disabilities helps the Amherst Office on Aging deliver food.
Negron, Isaiah Wicks and Chelsie Jenkins volunteered on Feb. 20. All three are consumers at Murray Ridge’s Lorain Opportunity Vocational Center.
“People often think of them as the ones who need help. This gives them a chance to be the helpers, to give back,” said Jill Camp, habilitation manager for Murray Ridge.
“These guys come back with big smiles on their faces. They really love it,” she said.
Murray Ridge celebrated its 50th anniversary three years ago. Instead of throwing a big party, the agency decided to find ways to give back to the community.
Consumers there pick up trash, adopt park paths, volunteer at the Animal Protective League and deliver for Meals on Wheels, Camp said.
The Amherst Office on Aging, located on Cleveland Avenue, is a city department.
Director Carrie Adams said about 30 people receive meals each weekday. Volunteers like those from Murray Ridge are appreciated, she said.
“Our clients really get a lot of joy out of visiting with them,” said Adams. “They’re always so helpful and kind.”
Murray Ridge volunteers sort premade food packages at Sprenger Health Care’s Amherst Manor, load coolers, plan the delivery route and make sure food gets to each house.
“They enjoy the interaction with the folks who are getting the meals,” Camp said. “They really get the idea that they’re helping people. They truly enjoy helping others, but they also enjoy working together as a team.”
Adams said there’s always a demand for food. The city is home to many older people with mobility issues.
“It can be a huge burden if you can’t drive or can’t cook for yourself,” she said. “A lot of folks can’t stand long enough to cook.”
A typical meal includes a hot entree such as spaghetti, meatloaf, chicken or stuffed peppers, along with sides such as green beans, mashed potatoes, roll and dessert.
For information on how to sign up to receive meals or volunteer to deliver them, call 440-988-2817.
“It’s really nice because sometimes people don’t see anyone but our delivery drivers,” said Adams. “To know that someone will stop by, check on them and make sure they’re doing OK is nice for them, and nice for their families to know.”