On Kathleen Oliver’s Meals on Wheels route, there is a gentleman who is a victim of stroke. He doesn’t have family in the area. Every day is a struggle – even walking is very difficult. He can’t drive a car. “He wouldn’t be able to stay where he is if not for this service,” said Kathleen, a long-time volunteer. “Meals on Wheels is vital for him.”

Stories like this helped Kathleen realize more than 17 years ago that she wanted to be a part of Meals on Wheels. Her mother-in-law Mary Oliver had been instrumental in helping to bring this  important service to Bloomington. She began volunteering on a route with Mary. When Kathleen became pregnant, Sally Fairfield took over for her and joined Mary on the route. When Mary passed away in 2007, Kathleen picked the route back up and now partners with Sally.

On the second Wednesday of every month, Sally and Kathleen run “Route Six” averaging eight to 12 deliveries in one afternoon. They offer more than just a hot meal. “Meals on Wheels offers daily contact. We offer a chance to remain independent,” explained Kathleen. “We bring smiles to faces. And they always bring a smile to our faces, too!”

As part of a partnership formed in 2010, the Bloomington Hospital Foundation provides fundraising and investment support to Meals on Wheels while MOW places its investments with the Foundation. Last year Meals on Wheels delivered more than 33,000 meals to Bloomington residents. Of those, 8,000 meals were delivered to low-income shut-ins at no charge.

Kathleen has not only given of her time over the last 17 years, she’s also donated financially to Meals on Wheels. “There is definitely more of a need for this service,” she said. “They need funds to expand to meet the growing need in our community. For that reason, I’ve stepped up my giving recently.”

Thanks to the generous support of Bloomington Hospital Foundation donors, residents who cannot afford this service receive two square meals a day anyway. Meals on Wheels meals (one hot, one cold deli-sack) cost $7 per day, $35 per week, $140 per month or $1,820 annually.

“People like Kathleen are the lifeblood of Meals on Wheels,” said MOW Executive Director Kathy Romy. “We have been around for over 42 years serving the Bloomington community and want to be around another 40 years and well into the future. Only with continued financial and volunteer support will we be able to continue to serve the most vulnerable in our community.”

“Meals on Wheels is an invaluable service. Those served not only get a hot meal plus an extra meal five times a week, but also personal contact, patronage and friendship. It’s a real sense of reward,” summed up Kathleen, “knowing you are providing more than just a meal to someone.”

The Bloomington Hospital Foundation invites you to make an impact on local hunger and consider sponsoring a local resident who may not be able to afford these healthy, dietician-prepared, much-needed meals. Please visit BloomingtonHospitalFoundation.org and click on “Make a local impact. Give now.”