“They’re Like Family to Me”
December 5, 2018
Every Wednesday morning, for the past seven years, 74-year-old Donna Harwood leaves her San Antonio home, gets into her Honda Fit, and drives to Austin to deliver meals to our homebound clients. “It’s a 155 mile roundtrip. I do it because the people I have on my route, they’re like family to me,” she says.
Ms. Harwood’s commute time used to be much shorter. She lived in Austin when she first started volunteering for us nearly 20 years ago, shortly after her husband, Richard, passed away. “I lost my husband in 1999 and I sort of vegetated and I knew I needed to get out because I knew he wouldn’t want me to [be depressed],” she recalls. That led her to Meals on Wheels Central Texas.
Soon, Ms. Harwood was delivering meals Mondays and Wednesdays, and serving as a substitute volunteer two other days of the week. But when her daughter, Elizabeth, got a job in San Antonio in 2011, Ms. Harwood moved there as well so she could help care for her grandson, Lennon, who was six at the time. She hasn’t let the relocation interfere with her volunteerism and she even brings Lennon along when his school schedule permits. “Most of the people on my route have watched him grow from a toddler, and he turned 13 this year,” she says.
But the end of the road is in sight. Ms. Harwood plans to deliver meals for us through January 2020. “That will be 20 years and I’m already older than a couple of my clients,” she says with a laugh before adding “it’s time for me. The drive from San Antonio is getting a little bit too hard to do on a weekly basis.”
When asked what she’ll miss most about her volunteer experience at MOWCTX, she says “the people.”
And we’ll miss you, Ms. Harwood. Wednesdays won’t be the same without you!