The other day I met one of the men in Kennett who works with the local chapter of meals on wheels. It is an organization that I first became aware of back when I was in jr. high school and mowing yards. Mr. Stafford was one of my first lawn customers and I would stop by on the way home from school just to check in on him to make sure he was okay and did not need anything. The two of us ended up becoming friends and I was more than the boy who mowed his lawn and he shared a lot of his life with me. I learned about coin collecting, model trains and some of the struggles that life can bring. His model train wrapped all the way around the full finished basement. He would sit on his stool and direct me where and how to build and place things. I would climb under and over what felt like miles of track building towns, landscapes and placing people in the exact location to create different scenes. It was not unusual to spend hour placing things only to move them to the other side of the basement a week later to make room for new pieces that arrived. Quite often I would hear things like, “my wife would never let me do this when she was alive…but she cannot stop me now.” A hollow kind of laughter would follow statements like that…you could tell he was longing to hear her footsteps on the stairs coming down to tell him to, “put his toys away!”
My times with Mr. Stafford were always filled with work, but they were special and helped shape who I am today. I would often wonder how he ate, how he cooked his food. He did not move well, did not leave the house often, so how could he even get food from the store? One day when we were in the basement the doorbell rang and he said, “Let’s take a break.” We went upstairs, he answered the door and there was a man with a cooler who pulled out a container of food and gave it to him. Now Mr. Stafford, in true Mr. Stafford style, made some comment questioning the quality of the food but he gladly accepted it and thanked the man for bringing it to him. When he left I asked who had been at the door…and I was introduced to Meals on Wheels. I felt better, knowing that the man I had come to care for was getting a nutritious meal and that somebody was taking the time to bring it to him and check to see if he was okay on a regular basis. Meals on Wheels has been around for a long time. The Kennett Square Chapter of Meals on Wheels has been providing meals to home bound residents in the Kennett area since 1971. The backbone of this effort is the crew of volunteer drivers who deliver the meals to clients. There is currently a critical need for both permanent drivers and people willing to be placed on the substitute driver list. Permanent drivers are asked to commit 1 1/2 hours of time one day every four weeks. Drivers pick up meals at Kendal at Longwood at 11:00 and deliveries are usually completed by 12:30. New volunteers are given training until they feel comfortable delivering meals on their own. People interested in becoming volunteer drivers or wanting more information can contact Meals on Wheels of Chester County. Please consider how you can help continue this important service to the people of Kennett. It may be that you can find a few “partners” who can work together to take a day and carry the load together.