Inaugural awards recognize the contributions of exceptional volunteers and include a total of $90,000 to support honorees’ local Meals on Wheels organizations
ARLINGTON, Va., July 20, 2023 – Meals on Wheels America and Home Instead, an Honor Company, announced today the inaugural Power of a Knock™ National Volunteer of the Year: Debbie, a volunteer of more than 16 years through SourcePoint’s Meals on Wheels program in Delaware, Ohio. Home Instead contributed $50,000 to SourcePoint in Debbie’s honor. Two additional volunteers were recognized with donations of $25,000 and $15,000, respectively, to their local Meals on Wheels programs.
The Power of a Knock Volunteer Award was created to celebrate the inspiring individuals who deliver connection and care to older adults in their communities. Meals on Wheels organizations across the country nominated volunteers with compassionate stories about how these people are impacting the lives of their clients.
“The seniors we serve are often isolated and lonely,” said Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Debbie exemplifies the power of a knock, which she has done upwards of 8,000 times over the years, opening the door to social connections and friendships with her clients. It’s our honor to recognize volunteers like Debbie – the heart and soul of Meals on Wheels programs.”
Debbie stood out for going above and beyond in treating a client with the dignity and respect that is a mainstay of Meals on Wheels. When Debbie first began delivering meals to her new client, Dennis, who is deaf, they communicated through Dennis’ lipreading skills. However, when the pandemic hit and masking mandates went into effect, Dennis could no longer see her mouth movements and facial expressions. Concerned that the loss of meaningful communication would take a toll on Dennis, Debbie turned to YouTube to advance her American Sign Language skills. Dennis has embraced the role of teacher in the years since Debbie’s first attempt at signing, and they continue to nourish their friendship through weekly visits.
“Debbie’s story reinforces how Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver so much more than just a meal to homebound seniors, underscoring the importance of human connection,” said Hollander. “These individual acts of kindness have a multiplier effect and are what makes our collective impact possible.”
The Power of a Knock Volunteer Award also recognized Cathi, a volunteer at Community Cooperative, Inc.’s Meals on Wheels program in Fort Myers, Fla., for her compassion for her client in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Home Instead contributed $25,000 to Community Cooperative, Inc. in her honor. In addition, volunteers Barbara and John of Bloomington Meals on Wheels in Bloomington, Ind., were recognized for their significant efforts to advocate for their client’s safety and coordinate home repairs. Bloomington Meals on Wheels received $15,000 from Home Instead in their honor.
“Celebrating these volunteers and supporting their Meals on Wheels programs extends our mission to expand the world’s capacity to care,” said Seth Sternberg, Honor co-founder and CEO. “We hope these stories inspire others to check in with older adults in their communities and foster a sense of connection and purpose.”
Meals on Wheels America and Home Instead encourage Americans to experience the joy of working with older adults firsthand as a Meals on Wheels volunteer or Home Instead care professional or by donating to support the Meals on Wheels network. On the heels of the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory declaring loneliness and social isolation an epidemic, the two organizations partnered to raise awareness, funding, and volunteers to address the needs of our aging neighbors and curb this health crisis.
The partnership supports Meals on Wheels America’s Power of a Knock campaign, which is all about the transformation that occurs when a Meals on Wheels volunteer knocks on the door of a homebound older adult’s home, changing their life through companionship. A knock at the door might not seem like a big deal to many, but to an aging adult served by Meals on Wheels, it brings hope, health, and the nutrition and connection that will make their day. For more information, visit https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/the-power-of-a-knock.