LWRWC Shares the Joys of Giving with Meals on Wheels Plus at the November 2022 General Meeting
by Monika Templeman, LWRWC Publicity Chair

Pictured L-R: Gary Corson ( Carol’s husband and active Meals on Wheels volunteer) Plus V, Maribeth Phillips, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels Plus Manatee County, and Carol Belmont, 2022 LWRWC President , with 249 pounds of food donations collected from LWERWC Members

On Tuesday, November 29, 2022,  LWRWC celebrated the joy of giving at LWRWC General Meeting at Townhall. With festive holiday meals on everyone’s mind, our guest speaker, Maribeth Phillips , President and CEO of Meals on Wheels Plus Manatee County, was the perfect spokesperson to enlighten us about the thousands of people in our community who are isolated, hungry, alone and in need of hope through programs and services that are a lifeline to babies, children, families, adults, and seniors. Their mission is to assist individuals to live independently by providing nutrition and caring, supportive services. In 2021 alone, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee volunteers served over 13,500 hours to make the mission of Meals on Wheels PLUS come to life. Over 17,000 phone calls were made to check on the well-being of their clients through their Telephone Reassurance Program. Over 1,500 Holiday Shoeboxes filled with essentials to bring holiday joy were distributed throughout Manatee County. On Thanksgiving Day in Nov. 2022, Meals on Wheels PLUS dedicated volunteers and staff delivered nearly 750 Thanksgiving meals to local, homebound senior clients on over 90 routes across Manatee County.

In her fabulous presentation, Maribeth shared that Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee County celebrated its 50th Anniversary of offering amazing and impactful programs to Manatee County residents. Maribeth explained that, while it was initially founded with the purpose of providing hot, nutritious meals to the elderly and disabled residents of Manatee County, the Plus was added to the name because they became so much more than meals. Since 1972, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee County has been serving thousands of clients each year through four main programs and 94 cents of every dollar go back into the PLUS programs that include: 1) Home-delivered Meals program: Through this program, seniors and homebound residents in our community receive nutritious meals delivered to their front doors by Meals on Wheels Plus volunteers and staff.  The interaction also provides hope in knowing they are not alone or forgotten. 2) The Food Bank of Manatee: This is the largest hunger relief organization based in Manatee County. It is the only food bank located in our community and is the leading, local source of nutrition for food-insecure babies, children, families, and the elderly in Manatee County. 3) Daybreak Adult Day Center: The only licensed adult day center in Manatee County (licensed for 100 clients, with a 6:1 client-to-staff-ratio) providing skilled care for aging loved ones when caretakers must work or meet other responsibilities during the work week.  This crucial center, with its excellent programs, is a place where seniors find themselves and reach their highest level of independence and sense of purpose. 4) Friendship Dining Centers: With convenient locations in Manatee County, Friendship Dining Centers are a great way for those 60+ to find companionship, enjoy a nutritious meal, and participate in fun activities.

During COVID, and the recent hurricanes, the vital mission of Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee County proved to be essential in our community and the need keeps growing. To date, they have delivered more than 11 million meals to homebound seniors, distributed tens of millions of pounds of food to area families and provided social services for seniors. This awesome accomplishment is why Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee has been recognized by numerous organizations as the best nonprofit organization in Manatee County. Anyone interested in becoming a Meals on Wheels Plus volunteer should visit their website at www.mealsonwheelsplus.org

In the spirit of giving , LWRWC members donated 249 pounds of food at this meeting to Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee and Carol presented Maribeth with a $200 honorarium donation from the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club. Since our November General Meeting fell on Giving Tuesday, our $200 donation will be doubled to $400 through a matching grant from the Flanzer Trust! Fun, Friendship, Community Service were the components of a wonderful evening meeting that was an excellent prelude to the Holidays!