It’s a question Cindy Lehrmann asks herself every time she removes the soup and sandwich from the blue thermal bag, every time she rides an elevator to an apartment in a downtown Calgary high-rise and every time she hands the meal to its recipient.
“I think of the people we deliver to, and the stories we hear touch my life,” said Lehrmann, head of Chevron Canada’s Spousal Network and chief organizer of its efforts with Calgary Meals on Wheels. “I often wonder, ‘What if we weren’t there to help?’”
Cindy Lehrmann, left, of Chevron Canada’s Spousal Network and Chevron Canada employees Monica Gomes and Makenzie Martinson head out to deliver meals to clients in downtown Calgary.
Since May, 2013 the network has been teaming with Chevron Canada employees and Calgary Meals on Wheels to deliver lunch and dinner to Calgarians living in the downtown core.
Clients are ‘Family’
Teams of three to four volunteers navigate the downtown core on Thursdays and Fridays to ensure seniors and other Calgarians in need of a meal get them each week.
“We’re more than a meal,” said Calgary Meals on Wheels Volunteer Manager Desiree Naylor. “Our clients become family. You, as a volunteer, might be the only person they see all day, and that provides the clients and their family some peace of mind, knowing that someone is checking in daily to deliver a nutritious meal while also bringing some extra cheer.”
According to a 2014 Meals on Wheels survey, clients said they felt cared for and reported feeling less lonely after meeting with volunteers, she added.
“I think it’s amazing that Chevron spouses and employees volunteer to do this,” Naylor said.
The Chevron deliveries have lowered the cost of doing business for the not-for-profit organization, which can use volunteers instead of staff to deliver meals, she said. The delivery service also helps Chevron employees develop an esprit de corps.
“It’s a great feeling knowing you’re giving back to the community and the response that we receive from those individuals when we deliver their meals, it puts a smile on their faces and makes me feel good as a volunteer,” said Chevron volunteer Monica Gomes. “I also enjoy spending time with members of the Spousal Network and with my fellow employees.”
Delivering meals twice weekly couldn’t be accomplished without the help of dozens of dedicated volunteers, Lehrmann added.
“Thanks to all of them,” she said enthusiastically.
The 50-year-old Meals on Wheels, which was begun at the request of the City of Calgary to help the elderly and patients discharged from hospital, also provides meals to the working homeless and children at 11 city schools.
The organization prepares, packages and delivers 1,500 meals daily or some 388,000 meals per year.
Calgary Meals on Wheels has never missed a day of scheduled delivery.