They call it Community Champions Week or some such thing — a cattle call for media types to harvest some low-hanging fruit by riding around with a Meals on Wheels crew for a couple hours. But I hold an abiding respect for James Joyce — the man who administers the program through Senior Resources of Guilford County and not the noted author, with whom I have some key disagreements about word count — and the utility of the enterprise.
And even I am not immune to the siren call of an easy, compelling column.
And so it was that I found myself in the back of an SUV with CP Eldred and Ross Dunn, two retired textile executives who happily went about their monthly rounds in Glenwood, serving trays of hot food to elderly shut-ins, one disadvantaged group of Americans whose designation has yet to receive a politically correct upgrade. Housebound seniors? The culinarily insecure?
CP drives. Ross runs the food to the door. It’s like this every time.
I know from past years on the beat that most recipients of these hot meals — today a bit of roasted pork and gravy with potatoes and vegetables provided, as always, by Golden Corral — wait close to the door for these daily deliveries. And that volunteer distributors like Ross and CP feel protective about their clients, sharing their troubles and travails as they go from house to house. When a name gets taken off the route, they don’t explore it too deeply, just shake their heads sadly.
There’s no psychological backstory to their volunteering, no feelings of penance of there-but-for-the-grace-of-god justifications. CP says that he got started four years ago because the pastor at his church, Holy Trinity, said there was a need for monthly volunteers, and that was enough for CP. He recruited Ross about a year ago, and now they chatter away like they’re on the golf course or sitting on the front porch of a grocery store as they run their route.
I mention that there are still 200 people on the waiting list for this particular Meals on Wheels program. They exchange a troubled glance. That shouldn’t be.
Their route takes about 90 minutes. And like all true champions, CP and Ross act like it’s no big deal.