Story and photos by Alice E. Gerard
For senior citizens who are looking for a shopping experience that is neither online nor in a shopping mall, the Grand Island Golden Age Center offers Santa’s Workshop, which is available until Dec. 22.
“We have a safe place for our seniors to buy some treasures for the holiday season, not only for themselves, but for anyone who is on their holiday shopping list: neighbors, friends, family members, grandchildren, etc. So, we have everything from books to movies to Christmas treasures to purses to jewelry,” said Jen Menter, recreation supervisor at the Grand Island Golden Age Center.
The proceeds from Santa’s Workshop will go to support the Grand Island Meals on Wheels program, a program that is available to those aged 50 and over.
“What is unique about our Meals on Wheels program is that our program is self-sufficient, being that participants in the program have to be able to pay for their meals,” Menter said. “What’s unique about our program, too, is that we don’t receive any money from the county. We don’t receive any funding from the federal government. The individual has to be able to pay for their hot meal and their cold meal, which is $5 a day. But, we, in our true spirit, would never turn anyone away because of inability to pay for their meal. So, we have programs like this, like Santa’s Workshop, to fundraise in order to be able to cover someone’s meal if they are unable to pay for their nutritious meal.”
Menter explained that people who use the Meals on Wheels program are people who are considered “elderly, homebound, and frail.” Also, people who have recently been discharged from the hospital after surgery, or cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy or other cancer treatments, or people who are no longer able to cook for themselves are all considered to be eligible to receive Meals on Wheels.
“What’s unique about the Meals on Wheels program is that the meal can be catered to their needs,” Menter said. “If they need to be on a low-sodium diet or a diabetic diet, we can tweak the diet based on their specific needs. We coordinate the Meals on Wheels program here, from the volunteers, the different groups and so forth. It’s a really great program to be able to put together so that the needs of our homebound elderly individuals are being met.
“All of our proceeds from the Santa’s Workshop will help to support our Meals on Wheels program here on Grand Island. The Meals on Wheels program is a program that is available to those aged 50 and over.”
The Golden Age Center is also looking for volunteers to deliver meals. Generally, volunteers offer their service once or twice a month.
“Some volunteers are on standby, meaning that we may call them if a volunteer is unable to do their route last minute,” Menter said. “We’re grateful to have the volunteers that we have. We’re always looking for other volunteers to help us out because we really treasure our volunteers and we really appreciate the volunteer work that they do.”
If you have any questions about the Meals on Wheels program, or if you’re interested in volunteering or if you’re interested in learning more about the programming at the Golden Age Center, call 716-773-9682.
Menter said, during the holiday season, “The most important thing is, especially during the holiday season, to maintain your routine, stay upbeat, keep that close contact by staying in touch with your friends, and keeping the communication open with your friends. It is going to help everyone stay upbeat and positive, even during these different times. I think that coming to places like the senior center or being able to celebrate the holidays in your own way are going to be able to provide a lot of joy, even during these very different times. My biggest wish is that everybody have a very happy and healthy holiday season, and I hope that everybody has many, many blessings in the new year. I wish everybody the best in 2022.”