Local Meals on Wheels volunteer takes national award
BY: Catherine Miller | October 09, 2013
SOUTH BUFFALO - He didn’t join the group to win any awards, but this fall local Meals on Wheels volunteer Jim Wrazen was awarded 2nd Place in the annual Meals on Wheels nationwide “American Volunteer Contest”.
Wrazen, a volunteer based out of the Lovejoy Meals on Wheels [MOW] hub, has been a part of the organization for eight years.
“I always thought it was a great organization,” stated Wrazen, “I started after I retired because I finally had the time to volunteer and I’ve continued ever since.”
“We are very proud of the service that Jim has provided to our organization over the past decade,” Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO of MOW, said. “We were thrilled to be able to tell his story on a national stage. We hope to spotlight many more of our great volunteers in the years to come. We also want to thank the hundreds of local residents who voted for Jim. The incredible support of the local community is once again key to our success.”
Volunteering for Meals on Wheels has become part of Wrazen’s daily routine and he enjoys every minute of it.
“It just part of my day, and it doesn’t take very long,” Wrazen explained, “It takes me an hour or two a day, and I serve a dozen or two people each day, depending on how many routes I am assigned to.”
To the organizers of Meals on Wheels, Jim Wrazen and others like him are a God-send.
“There are some people that drive the route and others that go along with the drivers and serve the meal recipients,” said Rachel Leiderfrost, Director of Communications for MOW, “When people are willing to do both jobs like Jim does it’s easier for us to cover routes,” Leiderfrost continued, noting that all volunteers, of any capacities are embraced by the MOW group.
MOW operates locally in the South Buffalo area out of hubs in Cazenovia-Seneca area, Lovejoy area, and Broadway area, making it convenient for volunteers to obtain the meals they are to distribute. Those that wish to volunteer Monday through Friday are appreciated, but MOW has routes and schedules to fit everyone’s lifestyles and availability.
“There are groups that “adopt a route,” stated Leiderfrost, “Local businesses and organizations will collectively run a route once a day, once a week, or once a month, and the members of the group rotate the route so that they each person drives or serves once in a rotation. The time involvement for each person is minimal, but the reward for both the group and the meal recipient is tremendous.”
So, what makes Wrazen the second best MOW volunteer in the country this year?
“Jim is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done,” said Marcie Lahr, the site manager for the Lovejoy location, “Some volunteers can’t make it in on certain days and we run short-handed. Those are the days that Jim will work two or more routes to get meals to all those that are in need. His dedication is truly amazing.”
Wrazen lost the first place position for the national award to a MOW volunteer that delivered meals countrywide this year – a fete that’s difficult to compete with. This is the first time that the local MOW organization has had a volunteer receive an award in the annual national competition. For Wrazen, staying local and winning second place is fine with him.
“I love volunteering with MOW. I love the people I work with and the people I deliver meals to. Some people need someone to look in on them for medical reasons; some just want to chat for a few minutes. Whatever they need, I’m glad to be the one doing it,” said Wrazen.
To Wrazen, volunteering five days a week and serving over 2000 meals a year is no big deal. For the people that receive the meals, it’s everything.
To find out more about how you can become part of the Meals on Wheels family contact Rachel Leiderfrost at 822-2002 ext. 33 or visit their website at www.mealsonwheelswny.org.