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Wanda Gamble and Simba: Socializing with seniors on Meals on Wheels routes

Wanda Gamble brings something extra when she does a Meals on Wheels delivery. In addition to bringing trays of hot food to senior citizens, she carries along her puppy. The frisky Simba is a Miniature Schnauzer, who enjoys attention.

The clients love him dearly and often remark a visit by the two of them “makes their day.”

Gamble delivers meals twice a month in Ashburn, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. Her route takes a little more than one hour. She is ORAU vice president of Business Development, a demanding position even for a go-getter like Gamble. However, she still makes time to serve her community.

Her Meals on Wheels route runs to 13 homes where she offers conversation, laughter and praise along with nutritious food. Simba supplies large servings of puppy love.

“These visits lift my spirits,” said Gamble. “My parents taught me to help others, but it is often me they help. I get such a good feeling from them. It energizes me to do more!”

She joined the Meals on Wheels volunteer team after hearing about the program from a friend and former coworker. She committed to a delivery route and became a regular monthly donor.

The national program assists 2.4 million seniors each year and sponsors more than 5,000 community-based programs. The nutritious meals help seniors stay healthy and living independently in their homes. About 59% of home-delivered meal recipients live alone. For many, the meal delivery is their only social interaction of the day.

“The Meals on Wheels program makes such a difference in the quality of life. It strengthens our communities and brings joy to many individuals,” said Gamble. A Korean War veteran and a 97-year-old woman are among her clients. Gamble’s local Meals on Wheels program is managed by the Loudoun County Area Agency on Aging, coordinated through Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

Gamble and Simba makes sure mealtimes are special. “We genuinely enjoy our time in their homes. Volunteering for a program like Meals on Wheels makes you feel like you are helping make the world a better place. The program is near and dear to my heart,” she said.

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"The Meals on Wheels program makes such a difference in the quality of life. It strengthens our communities and brings joy to many individuals... Volunteering for a program like Meals on Wheels makes you feel like you are helping make the world a better place. The program is near and dear to my heart."

-Wanda Gamble, ORAU vice president, Business Development

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