Upper Shore Aging Honors Volunteers

Upper Shore Aging (USA) recently honored its volunteers from Caroline and Talbot counties at its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department. The programs honored included the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP), Senior Center volunteers, and Meals on Wheels volunteers.

Corey Pack, Vice President of the Board of Directors for USA, welcomed guests stating, “There is not an agency that I can think of that will not or cannot effectively do its job without volunteers. So the role that the volunteer plays in the agency is very, very crucial.  So, whether it be an hour of your time a week, or whether it be 50 hours of your time a month, we thank you for that because the agency could not fulfill its mission without the volunteers. What you do allows our doors to stay open, what you do allows those citizens who need services to be served, and it allows those citizens who are hungry to be fed.”

Judy Musch, Secretary of the Board of Directors for USA, reflected on the USA Board and its role, stating, “There are 12 members of the Board – four from each county. Your Board is a very active Board – one of the most active I’ve seen.”

Jennifer Neal, Director of Senior Centers for USA, who has been at USA for 12 years, gave an overview of Upper Shore Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, volunteering, and honored Wynona “Nonie” Thomas who was Caroline’s Meals on Wheels coordinator for many years before passing away last June. She reflected, “Upper Shore Aging currently has 275 Meals on Wheels participants – 66 in Kent County, 131 in Talbot County, and 78 in Caroline County. While Kent and Talbot have an abundance of volunteers, Caroline has two regular volunteers for Meals on Wheels to deliver to 78 people.  We do have an extra three that occasionally can come in and drive for us if they’re not working. So, to say that Caroline is in dire need of delivery drivers is an understatement.”

“Over the time I watched Nonie take route after route in Caroline County – some days using her rollator. Regardless of how hard it was for her to get around, she told me. ‘I still need to make sure these meals get out – help or no help.’ In the summers and when school was out, her granddaughters helped pack and deliver meals.”

Jennifer shared that since Nonie passed away, she delivers meals weekly and has also gotten her family involved and her children deliver meals.  She added, “I want to leave you with this – even if you can’t volunteer yourself, get your family involved, get your neighbors involved, get your local businesses involved. To feed our most vulnerable population is something you’ll never forget.”

Childlene Brooks, Manager of the Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts, shared, “I just want to say thank you to all of our volunteers. From April 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024, we had 45 volunteers who reported 4570 hours to our Meals on Wheels program. There were 23 additional volunteers who gave 1675 hours to other aspects of the senior centers. This does not include the volunteers from St. Mark’s United Methodist Church Fishes and Loaves Program who help us with our food pantry every Friday.”

Childlene Brooks (left), Manager of Talbot County Senior Center at Brookletts, Jennifer Neal, Director of Senior Centers for USA, and Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA.

Andy Hollis, Upper Shore Aging’s Executive Director, commented, “Your willingness to share your time and your talents speaks volumes about each of you in terms of giving of yourself to your fellow human beings, to your community,  and to each one of us. Every one of you has some other choice that you can make about volunteering, but thank goodness you choose to help out Upper Shore Aging.”

Hollis reported that for Talbot County alone, the volunteer hours would have cost USA over $75,000 in wages. When he added in all of the contributions from Caroline County, that number was over $100,000.

“We would not have the program if you all were not helping us. So, from the bottom of my heart again, and from those on the board, we thank you very, very much,” he added.

Sandra Owen, Project Director for the Caroline County Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) shared that in addition to the Meals on Wheels volunteers in Caroline County, seniors volunteer for His Hope Ministries – the local homeless shelter; at the Samaritan House – a thrift shop and food pantry in Denton; and at Positive Strides – a therapeutic equestrian riding center in Preston.

Meals on Wheels Volunteer Ron Kornas, a retired contractor, of Easton has been volunteering three days a week packaging meals and delivering them throughout Talbot County for the last five years. He has met new volunteer Kenneth Fisher, a retired FedEx driver, who also delivers meals two days a week and the two have become friends and like working together at Brookletts Place packaging the meals.

Kornas states, “I like helping people and talking to them, providing socialization.”

Fisher adds, “I like meeting new people through volunteering.

St. Marks’ Fishes and Loaves Volunteers John Morris and Tom Barwick said that the ministry started as St. Mark’s COVID Fund five years ago. It currently has a crew of 11 people who pack food from the Food Bank on Thursdays and they distribute 85 to 90 bags through a drive through process at the Talbot County Senior Center on Fridays. About 35% of the bags go to seniors and the rest go to individuals and families. Participants get two meats and a full bag of groceries a week.

Morris comments, “When we started this program five years ago, we were doing 35 bags a week. Right now we’re doing 85 and 90 bags a week and for Thanksgiving we did 100 bags and for Christmas we did 110 bags.”

Tanya Sherwood of Trappe has been volunteering at the Talbot Senior Center for three years, helping with the craft activity every month, assisting at the desk, and helping with the dining room set-up. She stated, “I get to meet people from all walks of life. It also gives me a place to be social. I love older people and guess I am an ‘old soul’.”

“It’s good to help other people – some day I might need someone to help me,” shared Bessie Faulkner of Marydel.

Another volunteer from Caroline County, Doretha Cook Greensboro, added, “It makes  (me) feel good that I am doing something for others.”

“It makes me happy to volunteer – it’s fun and it makes me feel good helping others,” shared Veronica Hendrix of Seaford, Delaware.

Upper Shore Aging is looking for volunteers in Caroline, Kent, and Talbot counties. For further information, visit uppershoreaging.org/volunteer or call (410) 778-6000.

Upper Shore Aging, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is the designated Area Agency on Aging for Talbot, Caroline, and Kent counties, Maryland, serving a potential market of nearly 31,000 persons over the age of sixty years. Our organization develops and manages a coordinated program of services that work together to help elders to remain, and live well, in the community as long as possible. Upper Shore Aging, Inc. works closely with the Maryland Department of Aging to serve the needs of its clients.

USA Board members Amy Kreiner, Judy Musch, Secretary; Corey Pack, Vice President; Kevin Moran; and Andy Hollis, Executive Director of USA.
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