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My Volunteer Experience in The 'Meals on Wheels' Program

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Words: 2093 |

Pages: 5|

11 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 2093|Pages: 5|11 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

This semester for Leadership in Changing Environments class, I volunteered for the Meals on Wheels program with the Prince William Area Agency on Aging. I completed my Community-Based Learning volunteer hours at the Woodbridge Senior Center of Prince William Area Agency on Aging located in 13850 Church Hill Drive, Woodbridge, VA. The mission statement of the Prince William Area Agency on Aging is, “Empower independence, Enhance the quality of life, and Enjoy aging by offering a supportive network for older persons and their families through advocacy, education, coordination, and implementation of programs and services for older adults in the tri-jurisdictional area (“Area Agency on Aging,” n.d.). The Prince William Area Agency on Aging provides various programs and services to accomplish its mission with the following initiatives; Meals on Wheels, Personal Care Services, Services Assessment, Care Registry, Telephone Reassurance, Caregiver Support Groups, Legal Assistance, Medicare Resources, Medicaid Resources, Adult Day Care, Volunteer opportunities, Senior Centers, Financial Assistance, Veterans Assistance, Housing options, Disability Services Board, Care Transitions, Home Repair & Renovations Services, Bluebird Tours, Commission on Aging are some resources in assistance available. In terms of challenges that the Woodbridge Senior is facing, there are two; parking and space within the center. The parking has been an issue for a while now and there has not been much done about it yet. Also, the space within the center is limited and the parking has sort of prevented the expansion project. It was said that until the parking issue is resolved, there cannot be an expansion of the center which at times is very difficult when there is a lot of programs and activities scheduled and there is no place for those members to meet and must wait for activities to finish before others start. Lastly, the one thing that stood out the most from observations and interactions with the staff, members, and volunteers is that the customer service is something that the people at the Woodbridge Senior Center do particularly well. Each staff memebr and volunteer makes it his/her duty to make sure that the members needs are exceeded and would try level best to accommodate their request as quickly as possible. After witnessing such treatment of the members, I was very pleased with completing Community-Based Learning volunteer hours at the Woodbridge Senior Center of Prince William Area Agency on Aging for this class.

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For In-Home Assistance Program Meals on Wheels, I was one of the Volunteer Delivery Drivers’. As mentioned, The Prince William Area Agency on Aging administers the Home Delivered Meal Program. Home delivered noontime meals are delivered to adults, age 60 and older who are unable to leave their home to participate in the congregate meal program. One noontime meal is delivered to persons five days a week, Monday through Friday. Others receive a week or a month's supply of frozen meals. Shelf stable meals are available to individuals to cover days when volunteers cannot deliver meals due to inclement weather (“Meals on Wheels – Prince William,” n.d.). The meals are prepared daily (Monday to Friday) at the Woodbridge Senior Center, reviewed by the center’s certified dietician (Nutritionist), picked-up between 10:30am to10:45am and delivered by the various volunteers based on the routes and schedule pre-arranged by the Prince William Area Agency on Aging in coordination with the Woodbridge Senior Center Site Manager. In addition, the responsibilities of the Prince William Area Agency on Aging include; maintaining the independence and quality of life for adults and their families and advocating, educating, coordinating and implementing programs and services for older adults. The Agency serves older adults, their families and caregivers in the tri-jurisdictional areas of Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park. The Agency is one of more than 670 agencies in the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Area residents are invited to participate in our programs. Some programs are open to those age 55 and older, others are open to residents age 60 and older (“Area Agency on Aging,” n.d.).

Regarding the work I did, the Woodbridge Senior Center had few key daily events/activities of this volunteer experience in which I participated in, such as Meals on Wheels, Front Desk as a Receptionist, and spent time in the center’s kitchen. For Meals on Wheels, I had couple of opportunities to deliver meals which are known as ‘delivery routes.’ My first day delivering for Meals on Wheels was on 11/13/19 with a partner since there was no routes available for me to take on that day. The Assistant Cook, Kevin at the Woodbridge Senior Center introduced me to the driver assigned to make the delivery and asked (on my behalf) if I was able to ride along since there are no routes available and I needed this to be done for a course I was taking at George Mason University. To protect the identity of the individuals at the Woodbridge Senior Center and from this volunteer experience, I will not be referring to any real names throughout this reflection. I met Lisa who was very welcoming and stated she was very happy to have a partner and did not have any problem me riding along with her and complete the route assigned. The delivery took little bit over an hour, Lisa gave me a synopsis on what is essential while delivering for Meals on Wheels including not to leave any meals at the door for safety reasons if the person does not answer or is not at the residence. Also, making sure I am aware and following any special instructions on the delivery route list incase if a certain individual has requested a juice instead of a milk. For this delivery, we were able to deliver all pre-arranged meals to all its recipients and return to Woodbridge Senior Center with the empty bags. Before leaving for the day, Lisa took some time out and showed me where we keep the bags which contained both hot and cold meals for this route and where/how to log in volunteer hours. On the same day, I spent some time at the Front Desk as a Receptionist where I was introduced to Tony, who briefly explained the role and what exactly I was going to be doing while I am stationed at the Front Desk. The main job was to answer any questions either from the members or anyone that comes in to the Woodbridge Senior Center and to respond to phone inquiries and direct those to the appropriate parties based on the questions/requests. This mainly included parties, such as Site Manager, Administrative Assistant, Chef, or the Nutritionist. If any calls came in regarding any matter beyond the scope of Woodbridge Senior Center, I was advised to transfer the calls to the appropriate department or person listed on the Transfer Call List. Lastly, I was very fortunate to have some time spent assisting in the kitchen in the early morning before the meals for delivered for Meals on Wheels and in the afternoon right after the lunch was served and the routes were completed. Kevin and myself after my route was successfully completed prepared meals for the future routes and cleaned up the kitchen for the day before I went over and reported at the Front Desk. This volunteer experience helped me further understand the dynamics of leadership which perhaps I was not yet aware of and had a profound impact on me especially when it comes to interacting with others in the professional environment. For an example, I observed on many occasions those in leadership at the Woodbridge Senior Center always managed to stay focused on the objective and the task in hand despite the distractions from the phone calls, email notifications, or the people. From the change and the Social Innovation Plan (SIP) perspective, this opportunity to spend my time at the Woodbridge Senior Center this semester has taught me to never be comfortable and always be ready for a change because at times it might be unexpected, and one has to be positive and respective towards it. Although the SIP is about Title I - Education and the objective of our group is to implement advisory type of a board who signifies as teachers having a voice in the amount of funds distributed to the teachers for their classrooms. Currently, teachers are having to pay out of pocket for basic classroom materials because the budget allocated is simply not enough. Therefore, I have learned from this volunteer experience that the outcome of any suggestion or request for a change may not always be granted or approved but it is important to stay focused on the principle and one day as time passes you will be successful.

The leadership approach of the staff that I worked with at the Woodbridge Senior Center was of a Servant Leadership. The Servant Leadership approach is a philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve, and it was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, 'The Servant as a Leader' (“Servant Leadership – Putting Your Team First, and your Yourself Second,” n.d.). In this part of the reflection, I will be mainly talking about Kathy Ambrose, the Site Manager at the Woodbridge Senior Center. Kathy is truly are is an example of a servant leader. Everyone on Kathy’s team knows that she will there for them. She checks in with them often to see how they are and genuinely tries to see situations from others' perspectives. She makes decisions with the team's best interests in mind and ensures that everyone has the resources and knowledge they need to meet their objectives. As a result of this, her team is one of the most successful in the Prince William Area Agency on Aging with low staff turnover and high engagement.

The Woodbridge Senior Center of Prince William Area Agency on Aging work is doing a lot of things which are well, important, and is making a lasting difference. However, in terms of making change related to our SIP, the SIP focus is different than my Community-Based Learning experience and is about Title I - Education and the objective of our group is to implement advisory type of a board who signifies as teachers having a voice in the amount of funds distributed to the teachers for their classrooms. Currently, teachers are having to pay out of pocket for basic classroom materials because the budget allocated is simply not enough. Currently, the Prince William Area Agency on Aging is actively providing18 various programs and services as mentioned earlier which are visionary, innovative, realistic, important, and have very long-lasting impact on the lives of those who participate those programs and the Prince William County at large. Furthermore, at the moment, the Woodbridge Senior Center is serving over 670 members, from which over 330 members are active and come to the center and are involved in the center’s activities and programs (K. Ambrose, personal communication, November 6, 2019). I think the organization could do a better job in terms adding more staff members in the Woodbridge Senior Center. This is based on my observations and interactions with the current staff, volunteers, and members in the Woodbridge Senior Center. This is mainly because of the heavily reliance on presence of the volunteers and turnover time-to-time that takes place within the center. There seems to be dire need of extra “hands” particularly at the Front Desk and at times in the Kitchen when there is an emergency and volunteers are unable to make it.

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Although there was not specifically I learned from this experience about how to accomplish change in the context of issues related to our SIP, nevertheless, , I learned many lessons, knowledge, skills, and insights from this experience of volunteering for Meals on Wheels and Woodridge Senior Center. Indeed, it will be very difficult to mention all of them in this reflection. However, if I mention one lesson I learned from this whole experience, it will be how very small of an effort (not can) but will make a such huge impact and change the course of the day of another person’s daily life especially when one is volunteering. It is important we recognize, the individuals who received the meals through Meals on Wheels or the members at the Woodbridge Senior Center were people who contributed to communities or the county in various ways. These seniors were accomplished veterans, teachers, executives, or held prominent positions in one’s respected fields which many people are and will continue to be benefiting from in the future.

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My Volunteer Experience in the ‘Meals on Wheels’ Program. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 27, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/my-volunteer-experience-in-the-meals-on-wheels-program/
“My Volunteer Experience in the ‘Meals on Wheels’ Program.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/my-volunteer-experience-in-the-meals-on-wheels-program/
My Volunteer Experience in the ‘Meals on Wheels’ Program. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/my-volunteer-experience-in-the-meals-on-wheels-program/> [Accessed 27 May 2024].
My Volunteer Experience in the ‘Meals on Wheels’ Program [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 May 27]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/my-volunteer-experience-in-the-meals-on-wheels-program/
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