Family effort delivering meals to needy
Graham Frith knew he wanted to give back, but his busy schedule did not leave him much time.
Looking at his calendar, the gym manager asked volunteer services co-ordinator Allison Garland what role she could give him.
But the question quickly became, “What can I do for you?”
Mr Frith started volunteering with Meals on Wheels four years ago after meeting Ms Garland at Positive Results.
“I said, I want to do something. What can I do to volunteer with you guys?” he recalled.
“I get an hour lunchtime on Fridays. I asked, what can you do for me? Or, what can I do for that hour?”
He took the central route at Meals on Wheels with his mother Chrissie Frith.
“Getting volunteers is difficult so [Ms Garland] made it convenient. My mom is the driver and I’m the delivery guy. She picks up all the stuff, picks me up from work and then we do our route.”
Mr Frith said it turned out to be much easier than he first anticipated.
“It’s awesome and even more fulfilling than I thought it would be,” he said. “It makes my day, and theirs, just to have a short conversation.
“In that five minutes we’re able to get in how they have been over the week, what’s new and any problems they might have had. To see their smile when I walk in the door is really fulfilling.”
Mr Frith sees five to ten meal recipients in the course of his route from Hamilton to Paget.
He said that while it has been fun building relationships over the years, it can sometimes be tough.
“Some are bedridden, some sadly pass away, and then some people move off the route, which can be upsetting,” he said.
One longstanding customer had to stop when she hired a nurse at home.
“Luckily, it’s in the same complex that we deliver to, so I’ll pop up to see her.
“It is very tough seeing certain people’s situations, but being there to brighten up their day makes me happy and it makes them happy. It’s something that they look forward to.”
He said the experience had taught him a lot.
“This gives you an overall view of what it really is like to get older and face the facts of life,” he said.
“It is good knowing that there are services like Meals on Wheels that can make it easier.”
For 40 years, the charity has delivered freshly cooked lunches from its South Shore kitchen to those unable to prepare a meal for themselves, such as the sick, elderly and disabled.
Volunteers deliver 180-200 lunches on four days a week as well as an additional 80 frozen meal replacements on Thursdays and weekends.
The regular service also means volunteers can check on the welfare of recipients.
“We’ve built up a good rapport over the years,” Mr Frith said.
“As a young person it is cool to know that we can do this. Volunteering is a much needed service and I feel everyone can make a little bit of time in their schedule to help out here and there.
He said he hoped to inspire others.
“I got into it about four years ago because I wanted to give back and do my part to help society,” he said.
“My wife [Joanna Frith] saw me do this and did the same thing. She volunteers at YouthNet and reads to kids for an hour every week.
“All charities need all the help they can get. We have many. You can make it work if you look through the list, see what can work for you and then go from there.”
The 33-year-old said he got his giving spirit from his parents.
“They instilled in me the need to help others and do good. Over the years, I’ve watched my mom volunteer all over. I saw the fulfilment she was getting through doing it.”
His mother was hit by a moment of doubt last month.
“We were in the car and she said, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this any more. It is getting harder than it used to be.’
“I turned to her and said, ‘Somebody needs to do it, so why not us?’”
That was all she needed.
Mrs Frith said her son is always making their clients laugh and smile.
“It’s that time of life when a lot of my friends are getting married. When they ask me what I’m doing, there’s either a bachelor party or a wedding. We have great fun talking about that and they have a chuckle about how busy I am.
“They are living vicariously through me and you can see it when they hear the stories, they get happy — it’s really cool.”
He added: “It’s not difficult to give up an hour a week. That’s not even much, but it’s a lot for Meals on Wheels and the people you get to help out.”
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