Alicia Coppley, Meals On Wheels of Tampa
Nancy and Gary embody what it means to be servant leaders. Following retirement, they signed up to deliver meals with Meals On Wheels of Tampa. For 3 years they delivered a regular route 1-2 times a week together. Many of the individuals they served over those years became good friends. Their friends look forward to the hot meals and regular visits.
At the start of 2020 the world was in panic. The pandemic caused many Meals On Wheels volunteers to take a step back from delivering meals. Whether due to concerns about being in a high-risk category or because their companies did not allow in-person activities, there were fewer volunteers available to help. Gary and Nancy knew they couldn’t let their friends down. If they didn’t continue to deliver meals, who would make sure they were safe and had meals to eat?
In the past year as volunteers had to step back, Gary and Nancy stepped up in a tremendous way. Now they deliver meals 4-days a week. Each route means they are providing nourishment and enrichment for 8-12 individuals. Many days they will gladly take on an additional route. This means they may visit more than 20 homebound neighbors in a single day with a hot meal, a kind word, and the reassurance that someone cares. They also heed the call one Saturday a month and deliver 1-2 routes as part of the Produce on Wheels program that delivers fresh produce, hurricane supplies, and holiday goodies to recipients. They carry extra supplies such as masks, hand sanitizer, and other basic items for friends in need. The number of lives they impact is incredible.
Gary and Nancy continue to serve because they see how valuable and important the access to a hot meal and the human connection is for homebound individuals and seniors. They humbly continue to serve without expectation of reward or recognition. They derive satisfaction from the relationships built, the friendships made, and the connections nurtured in the community.
Gary and Nancy deliver more than meals. They deliver hope and friendship with a caring heart.