“I’m Glad for Meals on Wheels in My Life”
“I think about where I am now and where I used to be,” says Brenda Wright. “I was going through depression. I stayed in bed for days a time….I wouldn’t answer the phone. But Meals on Wheels has helped me a whole lot. I’m passed [the depression] now. It’s a good life!”
Ms. Wright, who lives alone in her East Austin apartment, first contacted us five years ago looking for assistance with nutrition because her arthritis made it too painful for her to cook. “Before I got on Meals on Wheels, I was falling a lot and really not eating the things that I need. I’d eat fast food instead,” she recalls. Then a friend suggested she call MOWCTX. Soon, our dedicated volunteers were delivering healthy lunches right to her door. “I enjoy my meals. I keep my little menu for the month and I know just what I’m having. It’s always just what you need,” she says.
But oftentimes, clients need more than nutritious food to maintain their independence. In the five years we’ve served her so far, Ms. Wright has learned first-hand what our “More Than a Meal” philosophy means. Our Connecting Seniors with Technology program provided her with a free Chrome tablet and free one-on-one tutorials with a volunteer. “I was not computer educated,” she says with a laugh. “My great grandkids in kindergarten knew more about computers than I did.” Now, she’s able to use her tablet and surf the web without any assistance. “I learn a lot from the internet, but I stay away from the cruder stuff.”
Because Ms. Wright has difficulty maintaining her balance, our Handy Wheels program installed grab bars in her shower. “I don’t have to worry about waiting on somebody to be here when I take my shower or bath. I have handles and holds and everything else,” says Ms. Wright. Handy Wheels also installed a door bell for her. “I would miss meals sometimes because I couldn’t hear the volunteers knocking,” she explains.
“More than a Meal” also means each of our clients is assigned a Case Manager (CM). Ms. Wright’s CM is Al Benedict, and she sings his praises: “Al is wonderful. I can call him and if it’s something [MOWCTX] can help me with, he will help, and if it’s not, he will direct me in a way that I can get help.”
When depression overwhelmed her, it was Al Benedict who suggested she take part in our Telehealth Treatment for Depression program, a partnership between MOWCTX and the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work. The free, short-term, evidence-based treatment pairs clients with mental health counselors who help them build skills to effectively manage their depression. For Ms. Wright, the results were life changing. “If I look back at last year, I’m doing things this year, I mean GOOD things, that I wasn’t doing last year. When those feelings start coming on me, I get busy. I started embroidering and I made pillow cases for my bed,” she says. “I’m glad for Meals on Wheels in my life because it brings positive people to me!”