LEICESTER, Mass. — Town officials lent their time at the Leicester Senior Center on Thursday to support the 11th Annual March for Meals, serving up a St. Paddy's day feast of Corned Beef and Cabbage as part of a nationwide event to spread awareness about the Meals on Wheels program.
Town Clerk Debbie Davis, Selectman Doug Belanger, Police Chief Jim Hurley, and Parks and Rec Liaison Harry Brooks joined the group of dedicated volunteers that run Leicester's nutrition program, which has served the community for over 36 years by providing and transport healthy meals for seniors.
"What we're really trying to promote is that Meals on Wheels is a lifesaving program," said Alice Jone Kenney, Nutrition Site Manager at the Leicester Senior Center. "Sometimes for the people in their homes, it's the only person they see through the whole day, so it's a nice contact for the elderly that are home-bound."
"The most important part of the program is getting nutritious meals to people that don't get to get out," added Susan Denesha, regional manager for of Elder Services in Worcester. "It's a balanced nutritious hot meal, and we want to be sure their getting at least one hot meal a day."
In Leicester, around 24 people volunteer in the program — some in their 80's — and together they've helped make an impact on the community.
This year, Meals on Wheels Volunteer Week will run from April 15 to April 21, which is an event that thanks volunteers for their work to "let them know how appreciated they are," said Denesha. "Many times a Meals on Wheels driver will get to somebody's house, and they're not feeling well, but they don't want to tell anybody else. But they have a relationship with that Meals on Wheels driver, so that person can sometimes get out of them what's been bothering them."
Over the years Denesha has been involved, she said the most rewarding part has been "just seeing somebody smile and making somebody happy."
"I went to somebody's funeral last week, and the daughter of the person stood up and was reading the emails they had sent because they lived far away, and every single email had something in it about a volunteer from the senior center, the site manager — and it was very nice to hear that."
Residents who would like to volunteer to support the program, either by driving or in the kitchen, can visit the Leicester Senior Center and speak with site manager Alice Jone Kenney.