It’s the holiday season — a time of indulgent foods, shopping and being festive. It’s a time to be thankful, and a time to think of those most in need in our community. Here at the Whatcom Council on Aging we are thinking of those most vulnerable individuals in our community all year long and thanks to the community support from United Way and others we are able to provide delicious and nutritious meals to seniors all over Whatcom County.
Today, nearly 1 in 6 seniors in the United States, face the threat of hunger. Many of these at-risk seniors are home-bound due to illness or disability. This year our Meals on Wheels program will provide 60,000 nutritious meals to 360 home-bound seniors in Whatcom County.
Studies have shown that the cost of one entire year of meals per person is less costly than one day in the hospital.
This vital service meets a critical need in our community, allowing many seniors to continue to live independently in their homes. It also allows many seniors to recover in their homes after a surgery or illness. All Meals on Wheels participants receive an in-home assessment by our registered dietitian or another qualified individual. Our volunteers are essential as they help deliver the meals around Whatcom County. In addition to the meals, the volunteers provide a vital social contact to our home-bound seniors.
A recent study concluded that for every $25 a state contributed to meals on wheels type programs per person age 65-plus, the state saw a 1 percent decrease in the statewide low-care nursing home population. Studies have shown that the cost of one entire year of meals per person is less costly than one day in the hospital.
KEEPS SENIORS IN HOMES
I could tell you even more facts and figures to show you how amazing the impact is from this program but instead let me introduce you to Susan. She’s 78 years old and has had multiple sclerosis for over 30 years now. She is unable to stand for long periods of time and so is not able to prepare healthy meals on her own. Thanks to Meals on Wheels she is able to stay independent in her home and get a healthy meal every day.
And there is also Tom, a 77 year old musician and Bellingham native. His worsening arthritis over the past few years has made it difficult for him to cook in his home. Meals on Wheels and our staff have helped him maintain a nutritious diet and ensure that Paul has food every day.
100,000-plus The number of people are impacted each year by community programs supported by United Way of Whatcom County.
These are just twp of the individuals whose lives have been changed by this program and who have been able to continue to live independently in their homes with just a little bit of help. When you sit down to your holiday meals this year, remember those seniors who are also sitting down to meals in their homes made possible thanks to generous volunteers and support.
Meals on Wheels is only possible with the generous support and partnerships in the community. We are actively engaged with United Way of Whatcom County, and with many other organizations and individuals in the community.
ONE OF 40-PLUS PROGRAMS
Our program is just one of 40-plus local community programs supported by United Way of Whatcom County. Their focus on education, income, and health means that over 100,000 people are impacted each year right here in our community. They focus on big community issues, and partner with many organizations, all working together to make a meaningful impact.
As an individual from one of their community partners and as a citizen who has volunteered on their funds distribution committee for education, I am impressed with the work of United Way of Whatcom County. Working with volunteer community members they do an amazing job of selecting programs that will truly make a difference here in Whatcom County. I appreciate the dedicated work of their staff to partner with and strengthen our entire community. One gift to United Way of Whatcom County helps a child learn how to read, a struggling teen graduate from high school, a family have a warm place to sleep, and a senior stay independent in their home while having access to nutritious meals. Make your contribution to United Way of Whatcom County through your workplace campaign or give online today at unitedwaywhatcom.org and be part of making great things happen.
Mary Carlson is the executive director of the Whatcom Council on Aging. United Way of Whatcom County runs more than 150 workplace giving campaigns during the fall to benefit Whatcom County’s Community Impact Fund, which focuses on education, income, and health. For more information about making a contribution, conducting a United Way workplace campaign, or for more information about United Way of Whatcom County, go online to unitedwaywhatcom.org.