“They Do More Than Just Bring Meals”
Occasionally, 87-year-old Conway Noren catches a city bus bound for the University of Texas. It’s a five-mile trip that carries him back to the days when he helped design buildings on the Forty Acres and across Austin. “That’s been so long ago that it’s like another lifetime," he says now.
Mr. Noren, an Austin native, graduated from the UT School of Architecture, and worked for decades as an architect. Perhaps it was an inevitable career choice; his father, uncle, and cousin were all architects. “I enjoyed seeing buildings go up that I worked on,” he recalls.
The blueprints for his personal life were completely redrawn in 1962 when a trip to the downtown public library resulted in him meeting his future wife, Genevieve. “She was checking out a book. As I remember, it was ‘A Life Worth Living’,” Mr. Noreen says with a chuckle. The two eventually married and raised three children. Ms. Noren taught English at UT and later in Austin public schools. The Norens bought a home in the Crestview neighborhood in 1977 and put down roots.
Ms. Noren retired in the early 1980’s; a few years later, her husband did the same. The couple travelled a bit but then Ms. Noren’s health began to fail. “She eventually became bedridden and I took care of her here at the house,” says Mr. Noren. “I had never cooked at all in my life. I had never even cracked an egg. So that’s when we started receiving Meals on Wheels. That just saved us right there.”
Ms. Noren passed away six years ago. Her husband continues to receive our nutritious lunches delivered to his door by dedicated volunteers. He looks forward to those daily visits. “They do more than just bring meals, they check on you. That’s a relief to me to know that they’ll check on me,” he says.
He’s also found peace of mind through one of our newest programs, Telehealth Treatment for Depression, a partnership between MOWCTX and the UT School of Social Work. It provides free, short-term, evidenced based treatment for our clients who are 50 or older, and is funded through the St. David’s Foundation and National Institute on Health. “At my age, you have a tendency to get depressed,” Mr. Noren says. “They worked with me to accept the things I can’t change and gave me tools to work on the things I can.”
One thing he has absolutely no interest in changing is his home address. “I’m fixated on independent living. I try to do as much as I can for myself,” he tells a visitor. Mr. Noren credits MOWCTX for helping him stay in the place he’s called home for 40 years. “I don’t know if I could live here without Meals on Wheels Central Texas.”