Meals on Wheels – a new beginning

Dear editor,On June 17, 2021, a final meeting was held for the Fort Frances Meals on Wheels Board, marking the end of an era extending 48 years.

Meals on Wheels is a non-profit organization, which operates by a dedicated group of volunteers and a permanent part-time co-ordinator, whose position is paid through the funding received from the Town of Fort Frances. For some of us, it’s been a long run, especially our tireless and hardworking co-ordinator Gaby Hanzuk. Lack of volunteers was an ongoing issue for the program. Many meetings were held and lively discussions were on-going as we reached out to our community for support. Some of the more recent challenges included: Gaby’s retirement, slated for June 30, 2021 and the unexpected funding cut by the Town of Fort Frances by $5,500 – half our budget for the year. Without total funding for our co-ordinator’s wages, the program could no continue.

It was becoming evident we were in jeopardy of losing the battle. Adding to this, in March 2020, the country was in a COVID-19 pandemic. This was a turning-point for the Meals on Wheels program. As most of our volunteers were seniors, the health risk to deliver meals was too high. Our saving grace was a phone call Gaby received from David Black, Director of Community Services for Riverside Health Care. David offered volunteers and recommended moving meal preparation from Rainycrest to Riverside and change the delivery time to the noon hour. This new relationship provided hope for the longevity of the program. The Board and Riverside did not want to see the program disbanded. Riverside Health Care agreed to take over the program, as of July 1, 2021. A huge thank you is extended to David Black and his team for overseeing the transition. Meals on Wheels members are relieved to know the program is secure and will carry on under the leadership of Riverside Health Care.

As President, I wish to commend our Board, our co-ordinator Gaby, and all volunteers past and present, for their hard work and commitment to the meals on Wheels program for the past 48 years.

Marg Rousseau, President
Meals on Wheels Board:
Dorleen Dyrland – Vice-President
Elaine Allen – Treasurer
Roz Calder – Secretary
Gaby Hanzuk – Co-ordinator