Meals on Wheels Red Letter Day

(The following comments are from Meals on Wheels Coordinator, Milon Christman, and were made during a press conference Monday, March 18.)

Following an 18 month campaign led by a public-private partnership the Meals on Wheels Program is happy to announce today that every person on the waiting list is being prepped to receive meals by June 30th or as soon as administratively possible.

 
On the public side of the partnership is the City of Gainesville and Hall County governments who, despite facing several difficult budget years, have maintained local funding for this life-sustaining program.
 
On the private side of the partnership are the residents of this great community. Family, friends and neighbors throughout Hall County who have reached into their pockets time and time again to bring a meal and a smile to older adults who can no longer consistently provide safe meals for themselves.
 
Nearly two years ago, local attorney, Wyc Orr, approached the Meals on Wheels staff and members of the Gainesville-Hall County Community Council on Aging to take seniors off of the waiting list and onto the lunch list. Wyc reached out to family, friends, business associates, fellow church members, and to audiences of WDUN and the Gainesville Times.  He put a private face on a public problem and people were moved and inspired to take action.
 
Soon after Wyc’s announcement, the North Georgia Community Foundation offered its expertise by setting up a special account that literally received and processed hundreds of donations from individuals, organizations and businesses. 
 
To say we are lucky to live in such a giving community is an understatement.  No one comes together better in times of difficulty and strife than the people of Gainesville-Hall County.  Thank you to each of you for your contributions.
 
Now, just because we are erasing the existing waiting list doesn’t mean we are done with this job. Each and every day older adults in our community and across the nation make the transition from fully able-bodied and independent to frail and needing assistance. Once the waiting list goes to zero, it will start to climb again.  To stay ahead of this problem we need a continual commitment of funding and a core of at least 30 to 50 new volunteers to help deliver the meals. 
 
Let’s make a pledge here today as a united community to never ever allow this waiting list to expand the way it has over these past three years.  We need the commitment of our city and county governments and of our family, friends and business partners to make senior nutrition a priority.
 
The sequestration that was triggered a few weeks ago makes your continued support all the more important. Sequestration has the potential of undoing all the work that our community has done if we do not remain vigilant.The automatic budget cuts caused by sequestration are likely to eventually have a chilling effect on senior funding in our state.