For many, retirement is a long-awaited opportunity to put their feet up and enjoy the fruits of their labour. Not so for Warren Herd, who sees it as an opportunity to give something back to the local community.
After a 35 year career in Human Resources, including 20 years with the North Coast Institute of TAFE in Port Macquarie, Warren jumped at the chance to sign up as a Meals on Wheels volunteer.
“I had commenced a TAFE course in Community Services in early 2013, but decided I would rather do something practical,” Warren said. So he joined the team of 300 volunteers who, along with three staff, keep the Port Macquarie branch of Meals on Wheels Mid North Coast running.
For two years Warren has been busy dispatching meals from the Garden Village kitchen and delivering meals to clients. This is a huge logistical feat, to make sure the meals are ready on time to be delivered by the team of volunteers to 120 clients living across the region.
Meals on Wheels is much more than just a meal. Warren also takes clients shopping and drives them to the monthly “Eating with Friends” functions and fortnightly “Men’s Lunches”.
Warren enjoys knowing he is providing a vital service to the community, making new friends and learning new skills. “There can be some challenging moments, but it’s wonderful to be involved in brightening others’ lives and making a real difference.”
He recalls one particular trip with a laugh. “I was dropping a lady home after lunch and was assisting her to the door with her walker. Halfway there, the heavens opened and we were both drenched. Dripping wet, I got back into the bus to drive the other clients home.”
The Port Macquarie Meals on Wheels volunteers play an important role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of our growing ageing population, and assisting people to live independently in their own homes for longer.
Often a Meals on Wheels meal is the most nutritional meal for a client, who would otherwise exist on tea and toast. These healthy meals can reduce the incidence of falls and other associated health risks in older people.
The volunteers are sometimes the only daily point of contact for recipients. The regular social interaction is a great comfort, and often the highlight of their day. Warren will often stop for a chat about local issues or a good book, while also monitoring the client’s wellbeing.
Across NSW there are 35,000 volunteers serving 4.5 million meals per year to around 15,000 clients a day. The service is not means tested and is geared to the needs of frail older people, younger people with disabilities and their carers.
Meals on Wheels has been improving the lives of Australians for more than 60 years and, thanks to dedicated volunteers like Warren, this spirit of care and camaraderie will continue be a tremendous support for older people in our local communities.
9:00am – Deliver meals to clients at Blackmans Point
10:00am – Pack daily meals to be distributed to clients in Port Macquarie and give to other volunteers for delivery
11:00am – Take a client shopping for groceries
12:30pm – Clean the food delivery bags for the next day. My least favourite task.
1:00pm – Check mail box
1:45pm – Finish for the day
Interview by Michelle Newman from www.newmancommunications.com.au