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Wake County Volunteer Delivers More Than Meals

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RALEIGH — Since the Meals on Wheels program began in Wake County 25 years ago, fewer people have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

For those people, a genuine hero comes to visit five days a week.

Connie Sweeney became a Meals on Wheels volunteer 20 years ago to help fill a need in Wake County.

"Well, because people needed a hot meal and they couldn't provide it for themselves. They couldn't go out for them, so they started the Meals on Wheels program bringing the meals to the home," explains Sweeney.

The program has grown from providing just nine meals in 1974. Now with 67 routes throughout most of Wake County, the volunteer force delivers 1,250 meals five days a week.

"The wonderful thing about Meals on Wheels is we're not just bringing meals to the home, you're bringing the person. The only people they may see each day are the people who bring their meal," says Sweeney. "And they aren't necessarily underprivileged. Some are, but some can pay for it and they do."

Sweeney now substitutes on routes when regular volunteers are sick or when there's no volunteer at all.

"We need them so much," says Executive Director Vivian Keith. "There's 90 [people] on the waiting list and we not only need the money, we need the volunteers, particularly in the Garner area."

Faithful volunteers are the hub of the program. Meals on Wheels organizers lift Connie Sweeney up as a model of faithfulness.

"I think commitment and loyalty and her ability to follow through," says Keith. "If Connie Sweeney says 'I'm going to help you do this' then we can count on that."

"It's not a big sacrifice," says Sweeney of the time she gives to volunteer. "It's an hour to an hour and a half each day. But I don't consider myself a hero. I consider myself in a position to help the less fortunate."

You too can become a hero by volunteering for Meals on Wheels of Wake County. To find out more call919-833-1749. Reporter:/PhotographerRick Armstrong