The Meals on Wheels ‘Hope’ route stretches 75 miles from the MCH kitchen on Summer Street in Rockland out Route 17 with stops along Route 90, in Appleton, in Hope and all the way to Washington and back through Union. Eleven home deliveries, fifteen meals, each stop with its own unique story.

Jim Bowditch, of Camden, and Clark Doran, of Rockport have been ’Hope’ route delivery volunteers every Tuesday since the beginning of last summer. Both men find the service and interactions with folks highly rewarding. Bowditch has been part of the Meals on Wheels parent organization, MCH Inc., for 5 years, first participating in fundraising efforts, then as a board member before also becoming a volunteer driver this year. He has been connected to the midcoast his entire life and settled here year-round after a successful career in academia and with the Episcopal Church. “Being a Meals on Wheels driver has changed the way I think about MCH and has given me a deeper appreciation of the great needs present in our community” says Bowditch.

Doran worked in the urban re-development business in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, and summered in Maine. Always active in public service and non-profits during his career he settled in the midcoast after retiring 3 years ago and joined the Camden Rotary Club, where he met Bowditch. Bowditch recruited him as a Meals on Wheels volunteer and Doran was recently elected to the MCH Inc board of directors. Doran is “very appreciative of the challenges elderly people in rural Maine face every day and grateful to get to know and be of service to these neighbors.”

Meals on Wheels provides healthy nutrition for individuals who are not able to get out to do grocery shopping or to prepare their own meals.. In addition to the meal, the heart of the program is the important, daily face-to-face communication. Many of the elderly recipients are frail and at times forgetful. Many are lonely and have little daily contact with others. The daily check-in with volunteers is an opportunity to help with simple tasks, enjoy a friendly visit and take stock of how things are going. National research has proven those who live alone and receive Meals on Wheels daily feel less isolated, less lonely and worry less about their ability to remain in their homes.

Meals on Wheels services are available to seniors and disabled individuals in need. There is a suggested donation but no one is turned away regardless of their ability to pay. Some people need meals for a few weeks after a surgery or an accident. Many people receive meals for months or years, allowing them to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. To request meals or , make a referral on behalf of a neighbor, relative or friend, please contact Katie Tarbox at 701-9641.

Meals on Wheels is a key program of MCH Inc., a Rockland-based nonprofit dedicated to “empower individuals, primarily older adults and people with disabilities, to maintain independent, active lives by providing access to affordable housing, meals and other supportive services.” MCH Housing provides affordable apartments enabling older adults and individuals with disabilities to maintain their independence in a community setting. The program operates 4 affordable independent housing communities with apartments that are home to 133 seniors and disabled adults: Methodist Conference Home, Rankin Center and Stevens House in Rockland and Knox Hotel Apartments in Thomaston. MCH Support Services staff provides on-site and community services, including meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, preventative health and wellness programs to all residents living in MCH’s service enriched housing communities.

There are over 40 Meals on Wheels drivers, like Jim Bowditch and Clark Doran, who deliver hot, nutritious meals to over 100 people every Monday through Friday. Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteer drivers for regular routes, substitute drivers and volunteers interested in office or other projects as well. If you have time and a skill you would like to share, please contact Katie Tarbox at 701-9641 to learn more about becoming a volunteer. To make a donation to Meals on Wheels you can send a check to MCH Meals on Wheels, 46 Summer Street, Rockland, ME 04841.