Delivered meals from Greencastle Senior Center include a bonus

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Nancy and Dick Roschli are laden with meals for homebound residents in the Greencastle/Antrim Township area. They have been volunteer drivers for eight years. The county welcomes more drivers.

A Home Delivered Meal proved to be more than food for one Antrim Township woman. The daily stop by volunteers quickly became a fortunate medical intervention.

Richard and Nancy Roschli, operating out of the Greencastle Senior Center, were bringing meals to homebound residents on a spring day. They saw a trail of blood down the sidewalk and into the breezeway of a 93-year-old lady.

Dick Roschli entered the home as usual and found the woman at the kitchen sink, washing her blouse. She was bleeding significantly. He got his wife into the house and called 911. They pressed towels against the wounds. An ambulance arrived shortly to take the woman to the hospital.

She had been burning her trash and an inhaler exploded. Debris struck her jaw and arm, and when the Roschlis found her, she was getting weak from loss of blood. She did have surgery to treat her injuries.

The couple notified the woman’s emergency contact person and reported the incident to the Senior Center. They also cleaned up the kitchen, of great concern to the resident.

“We felt very fortunate to arrive in time to help her,” said Nancy Roschli.

Dick Roschli said it was their custom to check on the well-being of everyone  who received the meals, coordinated by the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging.

“I go hootin’ and hollerin’ through the house to find them,” he said.

The meals

Franklin County’s Home Delivered Meals program serves about 200 people daily, Monday through Friday, according to FCAAA director Traci Kline. That takes 140 volunteers, who usually travel in pairs, to bring the self-contained meals to the older residents.

“They get nutritious hot meals and a visit,” she said. “Sometimes that check-in is more valuable than the food.”

She is aware of other situations when the late-morning stop was extra beneficial to the client. One person was admitted to the hospital after being found passed out at home. As well, the drivers and recipients develop friendships that extend beyond the few minutes of interaction. Her agency receives multiple thank yous for the food and the fellowship.

Polished routine

The Greencastle Senior Center is abuzz each morning, with volunteers present in assembly line fashion getting the meals ready. Hot food arrives from Pittsburgh Companies North, a foodservice vendor serving all of Franklin County and other areas. It comes in bulk from an outlet in McConnellsburg. Kitchen helpers dish the food into individual servings in partitioned containers. Joe Reccardo or someone else sets the plate in a special machine to seal it with plastic. The meat/vegetables are packed into bags, along with fruit, bread and milk.

Twenty drivers take turns Mondays through Fridays. They mosey into the center, grab the meals for their route, and are usually gone by 10 a.m. The daily average of 50 people have their food before noon. And in just that blink, the center is quiet, evidence of the morning frenzy over.

In a few hours, those at the center who signed up in advance enjoy the same meal. Typically, 50 to 60 people eat in the congregant setting.

Glenn Miller has volunteered his time for 14 years, in charge of the routine for Home Delivered Meals. He lines up the drivers, tracks participation and hours, and submits reports to FCAAA.

“I don’t know what vacation is,” he said.

Reccardo has been involved for six years, and appreciates having a purpose in his retirement.

“I like getting up early each morning, knowing I have to come here.”

After the work is done, he also enjoys the camaraderie with Senior Center Coordinator Chris Emory, other volunteers and people using the facility.

Miller did share a secret. If problems arise in the kitchen, they keep it mum.

“I like to see people smile. Everything runs smooth even if it don’t.”