SUISUN CITY — Volunteering can sometimes be a thankless gig.
Meals on Wheels made sure that wasn’t the case for its volunteers at its Suisun City headquarters on Saturday.
The nonprofit organization that delivers food to seniors, who often have little or no other outside contact, held an ice cream social and thank-you gathering for its 145 volunteers.
“Every year we try and do something because we can’t pay them – they’re volunteers,” said Cathy Hall, executive director of Meals on Wheels for Solano County. “They volunteer their time, they volunteer their gas, they volunteer their car(s), so today is just a real celebration to who they are and what they do for us.”
The volunteers gathered in small clusters around the office, some had fun getting silly in the photo booth, others just enjoyed the ice cream sundaes and sandwiches and enjoyed each other’s company.
Driver Lottie Mattern, of Fairfield, shared a table with her riders, Pat Davis, of Fairfield, and fellow driver Bob Carlisle, of Fairfield.
“I enjoy the program. It does good and I like the people,” Mattern said. “We have a good route. We visit with some of our people. It just makes you feel good you’re doing something for someone.”
Mattern and Carlisle are both 20-year veterans of the program and have seen it go through some changes.
“You come across all kinds of situations,” Carlisle said, noting that there’s a chance that someone has fallen and can’t get to the door. “If they don’t answer, you used to have to go to your next place and call the office from there.”
Mattern said cellphones have made it much easier and quicker to call for help if someone is in distress.
The volunteers are instructed not to try to help someone up.
But when the people do answer the door, it can be a joy for the drivers.
“We have one lady, she’s 92 and she’s a pistol. She’s so lively and she’ll come out and greet us,” Mattern said. “You see a person like that . . . she’s so full of life, she makes you feel good.”
For Carlisle, Meals on Wheels is a way to pay back the program itself.
“My mother took Meals on Wheels and she lived to 103,” he said. “And I kind of pay back by doing it now. She took it for about 10 years so she she could live in her own home. She didn’t have to go into the nursing home.”
It’s those stories and experiences that Hall said she treasures about the volunteers.
“These people in this room totally amaze me in the sense that we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” she said.
The volunteers each received the gift of a travel mug to use on their daily delivery treks.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.