LYONS - Toni St. John, a volunteer delivery driver for the Meals on Wheels program at Lyons Golden Gang, was devastated to hear that the program would be closing soon. “I feel that seniors are such an underserved part of the population. Everyone assumes that elders have someone looking out for them, but many of them don’t. I feel we need to provide for their basic needs the way we do for other segments of the population” said St. John. With the program on the brink of closing, many around town are desperately trying to find a solution.
“The Human Services and Aging Commission and LEAF have been aware of the upcoming closure for quite a while. We are all working hard to come up with a solution. The big question is what do we do next? How do we save Meals on Wheels in Lyons?” said Ellen Hine, a member of the LEAF board.
All options were explored, Boulder County Aging Services, Longmont Meals on Wheels, the Town of Lyons, and LEAF all tried to find a way to take on the program. But until now, the pieces of the puzzle just weren’t fitting together. By volunteering her time as a leader of the program, St. John saved the day. “I knew that if I didn’t step up it would go away. My motivation in stepping forward was that this program, although small, is of such great value to the community.”
After an impassioned plea from St. John at a recent LEAF board meeting, and a long well thought out discussion about LEAF taking on the program, the board decided to do a 1-year pilot program of Meals On Wheels.
The LEAF board is wary of taking on a new program when fundraising has been difficult this year. “LEAF needs to see an increase in financial support from our community in order to remain sustainable. Taking on the Meals on Wheels program is a risk for LEAF, and that’s why we decided on a pilot year” noted Susan McCann, LEAF board member.
The pilot year will run from October 1, 2016 to October 1, 2017. LEAF will operate the program of Meals on Wheels with Toni St. John as the volunteer manager. Meal delivery will continue to operate Tuesdays – Fridays to seniors and people with disabilities. Currently, six individuals receive Meals on Wheels in the Lyons area. LEAF is making a 1 year commitment to see what actual costs, growth, and time are involved. LEAF plans to keep the overhead as low as possible by harnessing the compassion of volunteers like Toni St. John.
As stated by Meals on Wheels America “For millions of Americans, Meals on Wheels is literally the difference between remaining in their own homes and needing to relocate to a nursing facility. The nutritious meal, friendly visit and safety check help them cope with three of the biggest threats of aging: hunger, isolation and loss of independence. Research proves that when seniors have the right support, they gain greater quality of life, need fewer hospital stays and live longer.”
The Lyons Meals on Wheels program, and LEAF as a whole, receive no federal or state funding and rely heavily on financial contributions from donors such as you. Simple monetary contributions, online (click here) or through the mail (PO Box 324), various types of planned giving, in kind gifts of goods and services, etc. are but a few of the ways in which you can play a part in furthering LEAF’s work in the community.
"This is a very exciting venture in reaching out again to a population in need in our community,” said Pam Browning, chair of LEAF. “I'm very proud of our organization for taking this risk and trying to help with something our town was about to lose."