Delivering meals and receiving thanks

Snavely a 17-year veteran of Meals on Wheels program

Snavely a 17-year veteran of Meals on Wheels program

November 25, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

When Joseph Snavely sits down today to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, he'll be surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But at some point, he said, he'll pause and think about those who aren't gathered at his table - the people he helps feed on a weekly basis.

For the past 17 years, Snavely has delivered food as a volunteer with the local Meals on Wheels program.

One day a week, he arrives at the Washington County Commission on Aging, loads up his car with boxes of food and drives 22 miles along a route that serves more than a dozen homebound senior clients.

At the age of 87, he could find other things to do.

But the job is too rewarding, he said.

"It's not just about delivering food. It's about making a difference in someone's life," he said. "Some people never have anyone to talk with. I may be the only person they see that day."


Snavely, who lives in Hagerstown, said he became involved with the Meals on Wheels program following his retirement.

He was the owner of Snavely Garden Corner, which now is owned by his sons.

"One of the fellows at my church had been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels and asked me if I would be interested in making deliveries," he said. "I've been doing it ever since."

Snavely said several of his clients are couples, but most of the people on his Hagerstown route are single.

"Couples can usually manage to do some cooking," he said. "But when you're alone and elderly and you have a disability, it's much more difficult. I'm not sure what they would do without Meals on Wheels."

While the program does not make deliveries on holidays, Snavely said in the past, an extra boxed meal is included the day before to ensure people have something to eat.

"In many cases, people have families somewhere that they will spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with," he said. "But not all of them will and I'm sure I'll be thinking about them when I sit down to eat."

In addition to making deliveries with Meals on Wheels, Snavely said he also volunteers at the soup kitchen at his church - Zion United Church of Christ.

"Volunteering is important," he said. "I didn't have the time when I was working. I tried to do what I could, with canned food drives and monetary donations. When I retired, there were no excuses. There's always a need. I would encourage people in my age group to consider taking a few hours each week to help others. It's a good feeling."

Snavely said he hopes his story will encourage people to consider volunteering with Meals on Wheels.

"It doesn't take up that much of your time - it's a very small thing, really," he said. "And people are so thankful when you arrive at their door. They don't complain if I'm running late. They know I'll be there."

Though he's retired, Snavely said he leads a very busy life.

"I have my volunteer work and I still go into the Hagerstown store most days to help out my sons," he said. "It's amazing how busy you get when you're retired. You wonder where the hours go."

Those interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program may call Hannah Cramer at the Washington County Commission on Aging at 301-790-0275, ext. 209, or send an e-mail to

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