By ED FRANKS
The Beacon of H.O.P.E. Meals on Wheels program is now offering service to Pine Island residents who are elderly, ill or disabled and are unable to shop or prepare their own food seven days a week.
"We've added weekends to the schedule," Joanne Merritt, coordinator of the community programs, said. "We deliver five days a week but on Fridays we deliver two additional meals to cover the weekend."
The food comes from the Community Cooperative Ministries Incorporated Meals on Wheels Program. CCMI is a non-profit social service organization based in Fort Myers.
CCMI prepares and delivers over 300 meals per day in the Lee County area.
CCMI's Meals on Wheels has been in existence in Lee County since 1971 and delivers more than food to the homebound. Regular visits from the team of over 300 volunteer drivers ensures that clients have daily contact with the outside world. For a few hours per week, Meals on Wheels volunteers make a world of difference in our community.
CCMI prepares the meals for the Beacon of H.O.P.E. and delivers them to the Edward Jones office on Pine Island Road. Beacon volunteer drivers then pick them up and delivers them to island residents.
"The Edward Jones office has been a great help to the Beacon," Merritt said. "CCMI drops off the meals at their office saving us a trip into Fort Myers. This speeds up the process and reduces costs for the Beacon."
Each hot meal consists of one third the recommended daily calorie allowance, a cold beverage, bread and cookies when available.
"We have between 35 and 40 drivers who deliver throughout the month," Merritt said. "This is completely a volunteer effort. Everyone that drives gives their time and makes a commitment to help out for the long term."
"A very important part of our Meals on Wheels program is the personal contact," Caryl Regan, RN, said. "We don't just deliver food, we check on how people are doing, make sure their house is in order and that they are OK. We'll spend some time talking and catching up from our last visit."
"The cost of the meals is calculated on a sliding scale," Merritt said. "The most anyone pays is $3.95 per meal. If someone can't pay, we manage to fund them through the Beacon of H.O.P.E."
The Beacon of H.O.P.E. is currently looking for volunteer drivers. Candidates must have a valid drivers license and pass a background check.
For additional details, contact the Beacon of H.O.P.E., 5465 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia, FL 33922 or call 239-283-5123.