Meals on Wheels — Delivering the Difference

Meals on Wheels — Delivering the Difference

The Beaumont Country Club will host Deliver the Difference, an appreciation luncheon benefiting Meals on Wheels. Tickets are $40, and funds raised from this May 10 event will go toward increasing the number of meals prepared daily to serve those seniors on the Meals on Wheels waiting list.

Meals on Wheels in Southeast Texas is a widely recognized program helping seniors and the disabled stay in their homes and live independently. The hot noon meal provided to the seniors forms the foundation upon which all of the programs and services of Nutrition and Services for Seniors are built. Organizers say that although the hot meal is important, the once-a-day contact with the community is perhaps the greater service. All of the programs are targeted to increase a senior’s independence and to help reduce the isolation old age can bring.

Providing hot meals delivered directly to the home is the best-known service of this tireless group of workers, but group or congregate dining services are also provided. Transportation and CareNet Medical Alert services are also a part of the programs. AniMeals has been added to help senior care for the pets that keep them company and bring such joy to their hearts.

In 1983, a group of civic-minded residents, concerned for the well being of seniors in the community, set out upon a path to expand existing services to local seniors. By providing the first congregate meals, home delivered meals, transportation, nutrition education and information and referral services, seniors were given the opportunity to remain independent in their own homes and to have a greater say in their destiny. In addition to the provision of the meals, a network of volunteers and trained staff members monitor the well being of the recipients during the daily visits. Those visits provide comfort and company for the seniors and peace of mind to family and caregivers.

For seniors to qualify for meals, they must be 60 years of age or older, reside in Jefferson or Hardin counties, be unable to shop and cook, and have no family or caregiver at noon time to be certain they have a hot meal to eat. All meals are prepared and packaged in the central kitchen on Concord Road in Beaumont. Financial status is not a determining factor for services. Meal delivery is between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and each meal provides one third of the daily nutritional requirements for older Americans. Diabetic meals are also available.

Appreciation luncheon

On Thursday, May 10, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Beaumont Country Club, 5355 Pine St., organizers are planning to honor those in the community who have contributed to the diversity, strength, and unity of the area. This gathering, dubbed Deliver the Difference, will be a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to those who have performed so many behind-the-scenes services that help so many. There will be a social, luncheon, music and special recognition of two honorees, Donald H. Taft and Charlie Weinbaum, along with honorary chairwoman, Betty Leaf.

Leaf is often described as one of Southeast Texas’ most colorful citizens, and her love for animals is legend. Leaf was born in St. Augustine, Fla., and moved to Texas in 1951. She and her family came to Beaumont in 1956 or 1957, and she is a professional landscape architect. Leaf serves on many boards and is involved in more community services than we can list, including the Lamar Foundation, Magnolia Garden Club, Beaumont Library Commission, the McFadden-Ward House Foundation, and others. She has two sons and has been an active member of St. Mark’s, serving on the garden and grounds committee for more than half a century.

You will not have a conversation with Leaf lasting more than a few minutes before you hear about her constant companion, Toby. She loves her dog and all of the animals that bring so much joy to the seniors served by the program. She and friends take great pride in seeing that these animals are also tended to, and every October, one friend and Leaf package about 75 treat bags for the animals of seniors. “This is such a wonderful program, and many in our community may not be aware of it,” said Leaf. “I think that it is a joy to be involved in this appreciation luncheon and I am excited to participate.”

In honor of Leaf’s contributions to Southeast Texas, guests are asked to bring a bag or can of cat or dog food for Nutrition and Services for Seniors Animeals Programs.

Weinbaum was born in Beaumont’s Hotel Dieu in November 1926 and is a staunch Texas A&M University fan. During his professional career, Weinbaum has contributed to the development of Southeast Texas business including the 23rd Street Shopping Center, the professional office building at Fourth and Broadway, and a building on Gilbert Street. He has served as president of the Jaycees, Beaumont Association of Insurance Agents, Beaumont A&M Club, Temple Emanuel and served on countless boards. He also coached little league baseball for 16 years.

Weinbaum is being honored for significantly contributing to the community — economically, socially, culturally — and improving the quality of life in Southeast Texas for all who call it home.

A healthy mix of rebellion, optimism, and tenacity has defined Donald H. Taft’s life for the betterment of Southeast Texas. He was born in 1935 in San Antonio and began working at a grocery store located behind his home. After one year of college, Taft made the announcement to his parents that he would become a funeral director. In 1958, the family relocated to Beaumont and bought Mercy Funeral Home. After more than 50 years in this profession, Taft says he finds great satisfaction in “seeing people comforted” by the services he and his daughter, Penny, provide.

Taft was a member of the U.S. Marines (Reserve from 1953-1961), served on the board of the Beaumont Selective Service System, the Appomattox Club, Spindletop Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Epsilon Nu Delta Mortuary Fraternity Inc., and many others. He and his wife are active members of the Texas Rough Riders RV Club and enjoy traveling together.

Nutrition and Services for Seniors is a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing innovative, effective programs that assist older adults in leading quality lives while maintaining dignity and independence. Since 1983, this service has provided more than 2 million hot noon meals to hungry seniors in Jefferson and Hardin counties. Volunteers are always needed to see that these valuable programs for our senior continue.

A number of proclamations honoring the work of Meals on Wheels have been made in various county and city governments during Older Americans Month.Catering for the event will be done by Debbie Bando, and music will be provided by the band Flava.For additional information, call (409) 892-4455 or e-mail info [at] seniormeals [dot] org.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.