Seniors across the country make up a large and growing portion of the U.S. population, and as such, caring about and assisting aging folks where possible is of growing importance. Meals on Wheels is one such organization, bringing both fresh meals and companionship to seniors that may be homebound. For the first time, Meals on Wheels is offering the Power of the Knock Volunteer Award, something we believe our very own Gracey McMain is more than deserving of.
A quick visit from someone may feel unimportant to many, but for homebound seniors, a visit from their Meals on Wheels driver may be the only interaction they have all day. Sometimes the meals provided by Meals on Wheels are the only food they consume in a day, bringing vital nutrients and sustenance, health check-ins, and friendship.
“Gracey drives the longest route,” Kathleen Harter, Program Director at Copper Shores Meals on Wheels, “and we’ve offered to shorten it, but Gracey does not want to give up spots because she would miss the seniors on her route.”
When invited in, McMain will step into homes and take time to visit with the seniors. She sees them as more than a number, more than people who just need a simple service. She asks them questions about their lives, and develops a unique connection with each senior she visits.
Developing a sense of trust and getting to know seniors’ backgrounds has helped McMain develop a sense for when the seniors on her route are not displaying their usual health, picking up on nuances that might otherwise go unnoticed.
“She sees them as individuals and that they are a person who is full of stories, memories and ideas,” said Harter.
Beyond her innate compassion and basic duties, McMain is engaging, going above and beyond by helping seniors with anything that is needed around the house.
“Gracey always goes the extra mile,” said Harter, “sweeping porches, shoveling steps and even walking multiple meals a quarter of a mile when a senior’s road was impassable.”
Rain or shine, McMain shows up ready to help. The Copper Country’s proclivity for severe and changing weather is not enough to stop McMain from putting in around 20 hours of volunteering, week-in and week-out.
Many people who work for and volunteer with Copper Shores Meals on Wheels are retirees. Due to the odd hours, many younger people who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs cannot help out at a place like Meals on Wheels. McMain’s own unique schedule has allowed her to put the time and effort into the Meals on Wheels program.
“Gracey is choosing to do this. It’s really refreshing to see people under retirement age connecting with seniors,” said Harter.
In a time of growing social isolation and a growing aging population, it is essential that people like McMain continue to put in the hours connecting with seniors. Copper Shores Meals on Wheels is grateful for McMain’s contribution and knows she will inspire others to do the same.
McMain is the 2023 Copper Shores Meals on Wheels nominee for the Power of Knock award. Meals on Wheels programs nationwide nominated a volunteer they thought was worthy of this honor. The winners will be announced in July and awarded in August at the national Meals on Wheels America conference in Phoenix, AZ. This award is made possible due to the generosity of Home Instead.