Every Monday, 87-year-old Ken Kim drives to Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina to load up his car with meals for people in need. Depending on the week, he hits anywhere from 12 to 17 homes, providing nourishment for the elderly and sick in neighboring southland cities.
“It keeps me involved in the community,” said Kim, who has been associated with Industry’s Meals on Wheels program for 22 years. “I can cover my route in about three hours, and I’ve formed some great social connections with the other volunteers.”
Kim is among roughly 34 volunteers currently serving the cities of Bassett, City of Industry, Covina, Diamond Bar, Hacienda Heights, La Puente, Rowland Heights, Valinda, Walnut and West Covina. The Industry chapter of Meals on Wheels has been active since 1979, delivering well-balanced meals to people who have difficulty obtaining meals for themselves due to physical, mental, or financial limitations.
“Volunteers are the heart and soul of Meals on Wheels’ success,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “I’m proud to support an organization that makes such a positive impact on residents and the community.”
The Queen of Valley Hospital sources the food, and drivers meet there to pick up meals for delivery Monday through Friday. Typically, volunteers commit to one day a week, driving the same route on their scheduled day. Together, the small but mighty crew serves approximately 88 recipients, which calculates to almost 1,300 meals a month.
“Many of our drivers are really dedicated to their routes and build a relationship with the people they serve,” said Joe Gardner, president of the Industry organization. “One recipient is 100 years old and really enjoys our visits – it can sometimes be the only human interaction she gets during a week.”
Gardner, who was inspired to become a driver after retiring as a sergeant of the Santa Monica Police Department, said there is a long waiting list of individuals who could benefit from Meals on Wheels. The challenge is to sign up more volunteers.
“The bigger our team, the more we can serve,” said Gardner.
Volunteers must be a licensed driver, have insurance, and of course sport a willingness to help.
“This is a great chance for retired individuals to get involved,” said Kim. “It keeps you moving and involved, which keeps you young.”
To learn more about Industry’s Meal on Wheels chapter visit www.mealsonwheels411.org.