“I am so Thankful for Meals on Wheels”

“I’m a jack of all trades,” says 84-year-old Linda Richards, before quickly adding, “and master of none.”

Ask the Santa Fe, New Mexico native about the jobs she held as a younger woman, and she’ll list occupations long since replaced by automation – telephone operator - and those that, decades later, still require a living, breathing human being - card shill for a Las Vegas casino (more on that Vegas vocation in a bit).  

Ms. Richards began her working life with Southwestern Bell in the 1950’s, back when folks needed operators to place long distance calls or look up telephone numbers.  “You had to get that number for them.  If they didn’t know how to spell the name, you figured it out and got that number.  Once, this woman called and asked me ‘operator, can you give me the number of Mary who lives by the big oak tree?’  I’m not exaggerating,” Ms. Richards recalls with a laugh.

Other jobs included stints as a manicurist, an assistant to a podiatrist, a home-health care aide, and that aforementioned position in Nevada.  “I worked as a shill.  [The casino] gives you chips and you play because nobody wants to go to a table where nobody is gambling.  I had to go to work at three in the morning.  That’s a different kind of living,” she explains with a shake of her head.

Major health issues, including a broken hip, also forced a different kind of living on her.  Physically unable to work, and homebound and alone in her East Austin apartment, she relies on Meals on Wheels Central Texas to nourish her body and spirit.  She appreciates the nutritious food our volunteers deliver to her door.  “That takes care of lunch and that’s a big deal.  That’s kind of the main meal,” she says. 

But as much as she loves the healthy food, she treasures the daily visits from the folks who bring her lunch, and credits them with vastly improving her outlook on life. “More than the meals are the [volunteers] who come here.  They’re so friendly and kind and loving.  They have that spirit about them.  They make you feel important.  They make you feel like you’re a queen,” she says. 

The fact that she needs assistance at all frustrates her.  “I’ve been very independent all my life and I don’t want to give that up,” she says.  “I have some major medical problems, but I’m working on dealing with them so that I can stay here (in her apartment) and take care of myself,” she tells a visitor.  In the meantime, she’s grateful for MOWCTX and our volunteers, “You realize how good people are when something like this happens.  I can truly say that good has come out of all of it.  It’s given me a great opportunity to become a better person.  I am so thankful for Meals on Wheels.”