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Meals on Wheels volunteer keeps going at age 93
Dec 05

Daily Journal

GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) _ If it's a weekday morning, you can bet you'll find Greenwood's longtime Meals on Wheels coordinator waiting by the phone inside the small Greenwood house she's called home since the 1950s.

Betty Dawson has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, a nationwide charity that provides hot lunches to elderly residents and rehab patients, for decades. She's been doing it so long that she doesn't even remember when or how she got started, she said.

But now, at 93 years old, it's time to find her replacement. And of course, she's the one conducting the search.

``Bill and I had been driving for them on Thursdays for a long time,'' Dawson said.

Bill Dawson, her husband, died last year.

The Dawsons stopped delivering meals together years ago, but Betty Dawson will still climb into her Buick LeSabre and make her way to where she's needed if an issue arises at the kitchen at Greenwood Village South, or with a delivery out on the road _ something she said her kids are urging her to stop doing.

But the bulk of her job as volunteer coordinator is simply being available by phone.

If a volunteer calls in, she finds a replacement. If someone doesn't receive their meal on time, she finds out why. If someone needs to add dietary restrictions to their meal order, she's got them covered. If an elderly person doesn't pay their bill, she'll reach out to their son or daughter for help.

``I get calls all the time, `Betty, my meal hasn't come yet.' So I'll call the kitchen and they'll tell me, `Well, it was picked up.' So then I have to call the driver and find out what's going on,'' Dawson said.

``The drivers will call me if they can't rouse someone and it's unusual, someone who usually greets them at the door when they drop off their meal. I'll make some calls to check on them and make sure they're OK,'' she said.

Although the job isn't hard, it requires dedication, she said. Holidays are some of the charity's busiest days of the year.

``You'll never believe this, but I forgot Thanksgiving one year. Someone over at the kitchen called me that morning and said, `Betty, did you forget something?' I shot out of this house like you wouldn't believe it. I guess I'd gotten so busy with my own cooking that I just forgot all about it,'' Dawson said. ``We have people who forget routes sometimes and they're always so apologetic. When (volunteers) can't do something, they have a good, legitimate excuse.''

Five routes cover Greenwood and Center Grove. Some volunteers work every day, some work a couple days a week and some work once or twice a month. It all depends on their availability and willingness, she said. She helped coordinate more than 400 meal deliveries in October.

``It's something I've always enjoyed and I had the time, so it wasn't a problem. There was never any pressure for me to do it. I met a lot of nice people along the way,'' Dawson said.

But she's finally ready to hang up the phone, not because she wants to, but because it's time, she said. She just hopes whoever takes the reins has the same level of passion for the job as she does.


Source: (Franklin) Daily Journal


Information from: Daily Journal, http://www.dailyjournal.net

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019