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Wanted: Volunteers with drive

June 05, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Volkswagen's ad says "Drivers wanted." The Greencastle-Antrim Senior Center says "Drivers needed."

Every day, David Dombrowsky prepares hot meals for about 30 or so area senior citizens. The meals are delivered five days a week by volunteer drivers. Each driver, some well into their 80s, takes a turn one day a week.

Dombrowsky said he needs a cadre of at least 20 drivers to maintain the schedule. On Friday, he was down to 19 with another scheduled for a hospital visit. His goal is to develop an extensive substitute driver list, he said.

"My reserve list is starting to dwindle," he said.

Each driver goes an average of 15 miles on their home-delivery routes, Dombrowsky said.

They are strictly volunteers. They don't get paid for their time, mileage, or wear and tear on their vehicles, said Margaret Bream, executive director of the eight senior centers in Franklin County.

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"Honest to Pete, they are the most dedicated people I have ever met," she said. "About the only thing they get is an annual appreciation dinner, flowers and maybe a pin. They are extremely dedicated."

All of the centers need volunteer drivers, she said.

The Waynesboro Senior Center has the busiest home-delivered meal program, Bream said.

Greencastle has four routes with 20 drivers. Waynesboro has nine routes with 56 drivers who deliver 112 meals a day, she said.

Senior centers in Fort Loudon, Dry Run and Upper Strasburg don't have volunteer driver programs. In those centers, staffers deliver a five-pack of frozen dinners to senior citizens, Bream said.

Chambersburg has Meals on Wheels of Chambersburg that operates separately from the senior centers' home-delivered meals program.

William and Mary Lindenfeldser are typical volunteers at the Greencastle-Antrim center. He's 85 and she's 81. They moved to the area from Long Island 18 years ago. They delivered meals there for two years before moving, William said.

They deliver hot meals to 14 older people one day a week.

"We get to know the people we deliver to," Mary Lindenfeldser said. "We became friends with some of them. We've been seeing one woman for five years."

Asked why they volunteer, William Lindenfeldser said, "It's throwing something into the pot."

"We feel good about doing it, but we're aging," Mary said. "Physically, we're all right, but we forget things and get mixed up. I don't know how much longer we can do it."

Debra Hurd, 46, drives for the Greencastle-Antrim center. Younger than most, she sees the program as a way to get her home-schooled son, Zack, 11, involved with people by incorporating volunteering into his curriculum.

She and Zack have nine stops on their route.

They loaded their station wagon with meals and set off Friday morning.

Jeanne Root, 71, of 59 Ridge Ave. in Greencastle, was their first stop.

Root, who has emphysema, said she can't get to the senior center like she used to.

She gets a nutritious hot meal delivered five days a week. On weekends, she fixes simple frozen dinners for herself or her children come in, she said.

"They're a godsend to me," Root said of the volunteers who deliver her meals. "I don't know what I would do without them."

For more information on the volunteer driver program, call 717-597-2020.

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