Crucial Meals on Wheels fundraiser coming up on May 3

Charlene and Bud Leanord
Bob Rogan
Gethrel Williams-Wright

Nutrition and Services for Seniors is set to host its seventh annual Deliver the Difference Luncheon on Thursday, May 3, at the downtown Beaumont Event Centre at 11:30 a.m. The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit’s Meals on Wheels Program.

The heart of Nutrition and Services for Seniors lies in the home delivered meals program (or Meals on Wheels). Since 1983, this service alone has provided over 5 million hot noon meals to hungry seniors and homebound, disabled adults in Jefferson and Hardin counties.

According to Kayla White, program development coordinator for Nutrition and Services for Seniors, Meals on Wheels currently delivers 1,500-1,700 meals a day, Monday-Friday, throughout Jefferson and Hardin counties to senior citizens and disabled adults.

All meals are prepared and packaged in the central kitchen located on Concord Road in Beaumont. Some qualifying criteria includes 60 years older or disabled adults who live in Jefferson or Hardin County; unable to drive, shop or cook; have no family or caregiver at noontime to prepare a meal.

“Our services are based on need, so financial status is not a determining factor for services,” added White.

Nutrition and Services for Seniors also have a garden that allows them to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables when available as well as shelf stable meals, so those don’t go every weekend without something to eat or in an emergency situation. The shelf stable meal is easy to prepare.

One of the strengths of the Meals on Wheels program is the 200 dedicated volunteers that deliver each day.

“It’s a lot more than just a meal,” said White. “Some live alone and our drivers who deliver the meals are the only people that see that day and they look forward to that visit every day. They get very attached.”

White said the full cost to deliver each meal is $6.80 and that $4.95 is reimbursed to Meals on Wheels leaving the $1.85 difference to be made up through grants and the Deliver the Difference Luncheon.

The luncheon will be catered by Bando’s and costs $50 per person. Sponsorships are also available starting at $250.

Also at the luncheon, Nutrition and Services for Seniors will honor seniors who have helped strengthen Southeast Texas including the late and Honorable Gethrel Williams-Wright, Charlene and Bud Leonard, and Bob Rogan.

“Get Wright” was more than a name or a campaign slogan — it was mayor pro-tem and longtime At-large City Councilwoman Gethrel “Get” Williams-Wright’s message to her community and its leaders — do what’s right and what’s best for Beaumont. The longtime public servant passed away in February at the age of 78.

The Leonards are pillars in the community, examples of a loving partnership, selflessness, family values, and hard work and servant leadership.

Bud and Charlene met at Lamar University. Bud played football at was co-captain of the 1949 championship team. The two married in 1953 then traveled when Bud enlisted in the Navy.

Bud spent most of his life volunteering at Lamar University. He retired in 1994 after serving as secretary to the Lamar University Foundation and becoming vice chancellor in 1985. When football returned to Lamar, the field was named W.S. “Bud” Leonard Field.

Rogan, a lifelong artist, is retired from Lamar University after a 27-year teaching career, 19 of those as head of the art department. Rogan was called to service during World War II and Korean War. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1950 from the University of Iowa and in 1964 he received a PhD in Educational Curriculum from the University of Kansas.

While at Lamar, Rogan changed the curriculum from just a commercial art department curriculum to an art department curriculum inclusive of fine arts, art history and computer art. He is still creating art today.

Honorary chairs for this year’s event are Lee Ann and Terry Garth.

“Nutrition and Services for Seniors provides vital services to our area seniors,” said Lee Ann. “It is a fabulous organization that deserves support from our community, and we are proud to be a part of it. Terry and I are very honored to have been chosen as the honorary chairpersons of this event.”

For questions about ticket sales or sponsorship opportunities, view www.seniormeals.org or call (409) 892-4455.

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