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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Volunteers Aim to Deliver Food to Saratoga County

SARATOGA DISTRICT – Officials from the Office of Aging of Saratoga County would like to return to delivering hot meals to home-stay senior citizens on weekdays, as they did before the March 2020 pandemic.

But the agency needs more volunteer drivers to accomplish this important task, county officials said late last week.

In response to the pandemic, the Office of Aging is supplying bulk frozen meals once a week to your home.

During an interview on Sunday, longtime volunteer driver Meg Gorman of Mechanicville examined the schedule of volunteer drivers in her area and raised concerns.

“The calendar for November and December has a lot of empty seats,” said Gorman, who works with her husband, Tony Delveccio, around her hometown and other localities in the county, if required.

“We actually don’t have anyone on Mondays, and Thursday and Friday look pretty sad too,” said Gorman, who has been a volunteer for about 10 years since he retired from the Mechaniqueville Department of Public Safety.

A similar picture is observed throughout the district, as the district authorities say they “urgently need” volunteer drivers.

The Office of Aging delivers 1,400 meals every weekday for seniors age 60 and older in Saratoga County.

34 delivery routes pass through the district every day, and there are about 220 volunteers on its list. However, according to Christine Rush, district director of public affairs, only 40% are actively volunteering.

“We need as many volunteers as possible,” she said in a statement.

The program provides seniors with a complete ready-to-eat lunch every weekday. Seniors also have the option of getting frozen food, which they can enjoy later for dinner.

Volunteers are especially needed in the areas of Saratoga, Schuylerville, Hadley, Edinburgh, Galway, Greenfield, Malta, Mechanicville, Moreau and Wilton.

Meals are prepared, packaged and ready for transport from 11:00 am Monday through Friday.

Volunteers collect food from one of nine locations around the county and deliver it to a predefined list of participating seniors.

Delivery usually takes about an hour. Volunteer schedules are flexible to match their availability.

The requirement for volunteers is that people must submit documents, including references, to the Saratoga County Office of Aging. Volunteers must have a valid driver’s license and their own vehicle. All volunteers are provided with training and orientation.

Those interested in volunteering can contact Billy Joe McConkey at the Saratoga County Nursing Office at 518-884-4020.

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Gorman noted that she doesn’t just deliver food to the housebound.

She also tries to put a smile on their faces.

“I have a couple of characters and they love to chat,” Gorman said, explaining that her husband, Delvechcio, waits patiently in the car while she usually makes fun of customers.

“It’s hard to just fall and run,” she said.

David Claremont Sr., 82, of Ballston Spa said he was looking forward to his delivery.

A delivery man puts bags of food for him by the fridge, and Claremont said he appreciated it when they asked him how he was doing.

“YYou couldn’t have dreamed of a better group of people, ”he said. “They take good care of you.”

Claremont said he didn’t leave the house for about a year, except that he used a walker to get out into the driveway for fresh air.

With a lack of family in the area and a number of medical conditions that limit its ability to make only a can of soup or a sandwich for a hot meal, Claremont relies on the Saratoga County Aging Office for food.

The nearest grocery store, Stewart’s, is almost a mile away.

“Without this food, I couldn’t live here,” Claremont said. “They did so much just so that I could stay in my house.”

Clermont, who is on oxygen, said the food was good too.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” said Claremont, who is partial to a variety of chicken dishes – chicken stew, chicken pot pie and barbecue chicken – and agency fish.

“I didn’t have a single food to complain about. I’m not crazy about chili. This is not like the chili I was used to 40 years ago. But this is also not 40 years ago, ”he said with a laugh.

Claremont said he has lived alone since his wife passed away 18 years ago. He has a parrot and a dog to keep him company.

“The last thing I want to do is give up home,” he said, thanking the food delivery program for making this possible, “and I’ve been here for 45 years.

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.

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Categories: News, Saratoga County

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