The Montgomery Area Council on Aging (MACOA) is on the heels of a milestone year. In 2018, the organization delivered its four-millionth meal since it began in 1972. In addition, a new volunteer opportunity and an expanded kitchen have allowed MACOA to better serve the needs of the aging population in the River Region.
Executive Director Donna Marietta will soon celebrate her seventh year with MACOA. The organization’s momentum and growth are a point of pride, but her greatest measure of success is the community support they receive. “The partnerships we have developed with individuals, businesses, churches and other organizations have been a real blessing,” Marietta said. “Our programs are volunteer-driven. We couldn’t do it without our volunteers, donors and board members.”
Last year alone, 1,200 volunteers worked 172,000 hours — a value of $3 million — to implement MACOA’s programs. They prepared meals for 1,084 people and drove more than 51,000 miles to deliver those meals.
Meals On Wheels, the flagship program of the organization, provides a hot, nutritious meal to homebound seniors. The visit, however, is about so much more. “The client knows a familiar face will be at their home around noon. It’s often the only contact they have for the day. If someone has fallen, for example, and can’t answer the door, the volunteer is there to contact someone for them,” explained Marietta.
The goal is to allow their clients to remain in their own home as long as possible. For what it costs to hospitalize a senior for one day, MACOA can feed that person for an entire year. All the meals are prepared in MACOA’s newly expanded Caddell Kitchen. Before, MACOA purchased meals from local providers but found them to be too inconsistent for their needs.
“Now, we can provide each person with the same quality meal. It has been a big help, but to do that, we needed more volunteers,” said Marietta.
In response, MACOA launched Meal Makers with help from the Montgomery Lion’s Club. Each morning, Monday through Friday, volunteers come in from 7:30 to 9:30 to plate, seal and prepare the food for delivery. Route drivers typically arrive around 10:30 to collect their meals.
“Meal Makers has been a huge success. In one year, more than 100 groups and some individuals have volunteered with us,” said Marietta. “We have found that it is a great way to develop teamwork among businesses. It is a very tangible way for them to make a difference in just a few hours.”
Creating Better Communities
Another way a business can get involved is by serving as a Corporate Route Partner. Currently, there are 49 groups that deliver meals once a week or every other week, and many more who deliver less regularly. Montgomery’s Renasant Bank, one of the Corporate Route Partners, allows all employees to deliver meals. Bank leaders say it lets them serve in the city in which they live and work and remind them what it means to be a part of a community. “Our employees constantly share the same feelings I experience when delivering meals and helping our seniors—they are so appreciative,” said Pete Knight, Renasant Bank City President. “The old saying, ‘It is better to give than receive,’ is so true. Employees volunteering to run meal routes help us to promote teamwork, trust, generosity, happiness, and it is a constant reminder of how blessed we are!”
The Chamber, Montgomery Police Department, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Beasley Allen Law Firm and MAX are among the organizations and businesses also committed to delivering meals, in addition to supporting MACOA’s various fundraisers like the annual Culinary Caper and Swinging Fore Seniors Golf Classic. “It’s important for MAX to give back to the mission of MACOA as they are meeting a significant need in our community, fighting senior hunger,” said Brooke Foster, MAX Communications Specialist.
More Than Meals
While MACOA is best known for Meals On Wheels, it’s only one of many programs. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) matches seniors with volunteer opportunities based on their experience and talents. MACOA also hosts daily activities, like quilting, exercise sessions and educational luncheons in the attached Archibald Senior Center, which is available to rent as an event venue.
While MACOA continues to expand its reach, the demand is growing even faster. “Seniors have a great deal of needs, depending on their personal situation, and they’re only going to grow as our population ages,” said Marietta. The challenges ahead inspire the work of MACOA’s staff and volunteers, and they’re already planning for future growth with the purchase of a lot adjacent to their downtown Montgomery office.
“Working for MACOA has been a marvelous experience,” said Marietta. “There is more work to be done, but what we have done in the 47 years it’s been in Montgomery, it’s invaluable.”
CARE THAT COUNTS
In 2018, 1,200 MACOA volunteers worked 172,00 hours (a value of $3 million). They prepared meals for 1,084 people and drove more than 51,000 miles to deliver those meals.
Local Restaurant Helps Feed Needy
Bibb Street Pizza is giving back to the community by allowing (and encouraging)
its diners to “pay pizza forward.” Diners can purchase a sticky note, which equals a pre-paid meal for anyone who comes in hungry but can’t afford food. The notes are also inscribed with sentiments that let those in need know they’re not alone. The notes hang behind the counter at the eatery. The campaign began with Patrick Aitken, who works for the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless. He had heard of similar things being done in other places and was moved to do it after a lunch at the pizza place, so he explained his plan, pre-purchased two slices of pizza and put notes on the backs of two of his business cards. Owner Ian Walters loved the idea, and now others have followed Aitken’s lead. In early May, there were 200 notes taped to the restaurant’s wall waiting to feed someone’s need.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Donates To Tornado Relief
In response to the deadly tornado that devastated Lee County, Alabama, on Sunday, March 3, 2019, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, LLC (HMMA) donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross for tornado relief efforts. “We are grateful to our partners like Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, who allow us to provide help and hope to those who need us most,” said Mark Beddingfield, Regional Executive Officer, American Red Cross, Alabama Region. HMMA employs more than 2,500 team members who reside in the River Region and throughout the state of Alabama, including Lee County.
Whole Foods Market Community Giving Day Benefits MACOA
Montgomery Area Council on Aging (MACOA) announced that it received 5 percent of April 18’s net sales from Montgomery’s Whole Foods Market as part of the company’s annual Community Giving Days. All funds raised will support MACOA and MACOA’s Meals on Wheels program serving homebound seniors. The April Community Giving Day initiative was Community Food Systems, and was focused on organizations, partnerships, projects and events that leverage food to strengthen communities through economic growth, sustainable sourcing, environmental stewardship and powerful collaborations.
MAX4KIDS AWARDS Scholarships
The accomplishments of nine high school seniors were recognized by the MAX4Kids Foundation at a scholarship reception that took place on May 2 in MAX’s Eastdale Community Room. “MAX4Kids is proud to celebrate nine outstanding high school seniors,” said Kenneth Hill, MAX4Kids Foundation President. “We are excited to see how the foundation’s investment in their future will help make Central and East Alabama an even better place.” The seniors from Montgomery, Autauga and Elmore counties were selected from 78 applicants representing 31 different schools. MAX4Kids is awarding $45,000 in scholarships this year.