“Meals on Wheels Changed My Life Completely”
“If people don’t know what Meals on Wheels does, have them come to my house, I’ll show them.”
Verna Bennett doesn’t mince words when describing the positive impact our wide array of services has on her life.
Ms. Bennett, a 70-year-old Army veteran, depends on that assistance in order to live independently in the house she bought many years ago while working for Texas Instruments. A few years after that purchase, chronic arthritis crippled her body, leaving her homebound, unemployed, and alone.
That’s when Meals on Wheels Central Texas began providing her with our nutritious lunches delivered by caring volunteers. She soon became friends with several of the folks delivering her meals. “They are like my family and I trust them,” she says.
When the volunteers go to her door these days, they walk up a concrete ramp our Home Repair program built recently. Now, on the rare occasions when Ms. Bennett leaves home, it’s much safer and easier for her to maneuver her walker.
Things are safer inside the house as well. MOWCTX Home Repair installed a walk-in shower with safety bars, and ripped out old carpet and replaced it with laminate flooring. “The walker runs smoothly over the new floors. I don’t have to worry about tipping over or falling,” she says.
MOWCTX also helps Ms. Bennett care for her dog, Farley. Because she’s homebound, most days the only people she sees are our volunteers when they deliver her lunch. So she and Farley spend a lot of quality time together. Our PALS program provides free pet food and basic veterinary care for the little guy. Ms. Bennett appreciates the assistance: “Taking care of him means a lot to me. I need him and he needs me. I need to be needed. Just to have someone to care for, even if it’s a little dog, it makes my world.”
Ms. Bennett says that world of hers has vastly expanded in recent months thanks to our Connecting Seniors with Technology (CST) pilot program. “Meals on Wheels called me and said they had received a grant from the City of Austin [through the Grant for Technology Opportunties Program] and would I like to have one to use, and I said sure,” she recalls. We then provided her with weekly tutoring sessions on how to use the computer and access the internet. “It’s opened up a whole new world because I’m not confined here per se. I can go to the computer and go places I’d never go,” she says. The computer and her newfound skills also allow her to Skype on a regular basis with her daughter and grandson who live in Odessa. “It’s just a tremendous thing for me, it’s just wow,” she says with excitement in her voice.
She uses the same tone when talking about the many ways in which MOWCTX helps her maintain her independence: “Meals on Wheels stepped in and saw the need and took care of that for me. I wouldn’t have the quality of life without them helping me. Meals on Wheels changed my life completely.”
The MOWCTX Technology program is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Grant for Technology for Opportunities Program.