Wheelin' It with Claire MacDonnell for 35 years

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Sylvia Campbell, left, and Claire MacDonnell picked up several meals from Valley View Villa on Thursday on MacDonnell’s last day with Meals on Wheels. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS


Meals on Wheels is an organization which provides meals twice a week to shut-ins, the elderly, or to anyone who is living in a situation in which he/she is unable to get his/her meals independently.


For $5 each, a client receives a biscuit or roll, soup, main course and dessert. For some people, this serves as lunch and dinner. 


In 1972, Ida Bateman, an employee at Manpower, received a memo about extending the meal program into our community. She approached the Local Council of Women, but it was only after 14 representatives from different  local societies heard from Antigonish volunteers how successful their Meals on Wheels program was so the New Glasgow program got started.


This program has survived for 40 years without any government grants.           

In order for Meals on Wheels to flourish, there must be an organizational team.  At present, this consists of Phoebe Fraser (driver convener), Judy Anderson and Nancy Wilson (client contacts), Anne Malcolm (treasurer) and Mary Barron (telephone convener). 


Preparation of the meals is a major part of this program. The first meal preparation was done at the CAMR Activity Centre (the present Summer Street Industries) and the first meals were delivered on February 5th,1974, in a major snowstorm. At that time there were 13 clients and currently there are 35 people benefiting from the program. 


In 1985, the place of preparation moved to the Riverview Adult Residential Centre in Riverton and continued there until June, 2012. Due to construction work at the centre, Valley View Villa assumed responsibility for the meals in September, 2012.


The success of the program also depends greatly on the volunteers who contribute time and gas so that the meals can be delivered. One such volunteer is Claire MacDonnell. She was the president of the organization from 1979 to 1983. She has been delivering meals since that time. Imagine!!! Her last delivery was on December 5th, 2013. She has given 34 years of service.


In the last number of years, her companion has been Sylvia Campbell and they have had many memorable experiences together. In a recent conversation with MacDonnell, she said, “I've enjoyed my time with this group. It's a wonderful service to the community and I hope I've helped others”. What a great attitude! If we all felt like that, this world would be a better place. 


- Submitted by Laurene MacDonald provides regular submissions to The News’ community section. She is a community-minded New Glasgow resident willing to share information with our readers about your next event. You can contact Laurene at  william1@ns.sympatico.ca


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Recent comments

  • Mary-Claire
    December 08, 2013 - 09:12

    That's my amazing Mom! She had been a shining role model of how we should give to the community.