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Supporting the Sierra Seniors

Tahoe/Truckee community works together to aid elderly during the holidays
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How Can You Help?

The holidays are a particularly hectic time, but it is important to think
about giving back. Sierra Senior Services offers many volunteer options, listed below.

• Meals on Wheels Driver
• Donation Pick-Up Volunteer
• Dining Room Volunteer
• Kitchen Helper
• Office and Transportation Support

There are many reason why folks choose Truckee/Tahoe for their retirement. Maybe they have lived here their whole life and don’t want to leave, maybe they always dreamed of living in the mountains. But, while this area is undeniably special, it is also a tricky place to navigate in the winter and during the holidays. Enter Sierra Senior Services, their Meals On Wheels program, and a supportive community.

Meals on Wheels is a nationally recognized initiative that delivers hot meals to seniors and, similar to the oh-so-famous post office motto, these meals have to go out and “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom” seem to ground its drivers — many of whom are seniors themselves. Think about it, how many places do you know where the Meals on Wheels fleet has studded snow tires? Furthermore, where else are you going to find volunteers who are willing to drive over Donner Pass in a storm?

A lot goes into these deliveries, especially during the winter and holiday months, because the daily trips offer up so much more than just a hot meal. They are a friendly face, something for the seniors to look forward to, and a safety check-in.

The real heroes behind this service are the drivers, all volunteers, who will stop at nothing to make sure the food is delivered and the seniors are visited.

Julie Bryant has already experienced the harsh mountain weather and the kindness of strangers this season. She described a recent delivery where she knew that the senior’s steep driveway would not have been plowed. “They can’t afford it,” she said. “I thought, ‘oh no, I am going to have to go knee deep [through the snow] to get to the house.’” Bryant was pleasantly surprised to arrive to a completely shoveled driveway, thanks to a local firefighter.

Fred Van Trease, 89, has been volunteering in Truckee/Tahoe for more than 20 years and estimates he has delivered over 90,000 meals! For 10 years his route took him over the 7,200-foot Donner Pass. Van Trease likes to help out whenever possible with chores like shoveling. “We help with more than just dropping off the food,” he said. “If I can help with something, I am going to help.”

Nancy Williams, 82, has also been distributing meals in Truckee/Tahoe for more than 20 years and equates the folks she delivers to being “like family.” Her pooch, Patsy Cline, accompanies her on her routes. Williams is known to stop by the Moonshine Ink office to also bring papers with the meals.

Deliveries this time of year are particularly important to make sure the seniors get holiday meals and, because the service is not offered on days like Thanksgiving or Christmas, frozen meals are prepped beforehand and delivered so the seniors can enjoy a warm meal over the holidays. The same precautions are taken with impending weather, but we all know how quickly and spontaneously storms have been known to roll in. Enter the fearless volunteers.

It’s not just the drivers who make this program successful. The Truckee Safeway donates baked goods, the Humane Society of Truckee/Tahoe donates pet food, and the Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund organizes senior gifts each holiday season — all delivered with the Meals on Wheels route.
Every November Sierra Senior Services partners with The Truckee Community Foundation’s Queen of Hearts to ensure each meal-receiving senior has a gift to open. The program begins in early November when folks are asked to sign up for the gifts they would like. And even the most stubborn receive a gift — anyone who insists they don’t want anything will still be given a red stocking with knick-knacks.

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March 14, 2019