Meals on Wheels

Billie Weatherly, right, says goodbye to Marge Sommerness Monday afternoon in Sun City. Sommerness delivered a meal to the 98-year old Sun Citian through the Sun City Meals on Wheels program. Every day of the year, the non-profit will send drivers out to assist those who cannot prepare a meal themselves.

Dave Martinez/Daily News-Sun

While some people might have been enjoying the Labor Day holiday relaxing and spending time with friends and family, Marge Sommerness and Martha Van Horne spent a few hours of their day driving around Sun City delivering meals to residents who are unable to prepare their own.

Sommerness and Van Horne, both volunteers for the Sun City Meals on Wheels program, delivered 10 hot and cold meals Monday, despite the holiday, to people such as Billie Weatherly.

“I fell and broke my hip and they’ve just been wonderful,” Weatherly said, adding she has been receiving meals through the program for four years. “They’ve been really nice to me.”

Sommerness, who was the driver on Monday while Van Horne ran meals to the recipients’ doors, offered a quick hello to Weatherly and knew she was having a good day because the 98-year-old Weatherly was wearing her lipstick.

Sommerness, who has been volunteering for six years and often trains new volunteers, said she and the other Meals on Wheels members usually get to know the people along their route.

“It’s just knowing that these people depend on us so much,” she  said.

Volunteer Judy Cicotte joked the program makes deliveries rain or shine, or even in the snow, not that it would be a problem in Arizona.

“We deliver every single day of the year,” she said.

Cicotte said nearly 200 volunteers not only like giving back to the community by helping people who are unable to make their own meals, but it’s also a quick volunteer opportunity.

“It’s not like it takes an entire day, and that’s another thing that appeals to people,” she said.

The volunteers have fun with it, too, even when working on holidays.

Cicotte said some volunteers will dress up for Halloween or wear reindeer ears during the winter holiday season.

“It’s kind of fun sometimes,” she said. “It’s a very positive experience for me, I know that.”

The meals, prepared by the kitchens at the Banner Boswell Rehabilitation Center, offer both a hot and a cold option and can be made according to a recipient’s special health needs.

Cicotte said the program delivers about 70 meals a day during the summer, but the number is higher during the fall and winter months, with a maximum of 120 recipients.

“So many times, they’re waiting at the door,” Cicotte said of the meal clients.

“We try to brighten their day a little,” she said. “For some of our clients, we are the only people they see during the day.”

Recipients pay for their meals.

The cost, less than $8 a day for the two meals, covers the cost of the program, but Meals on Wheels also tries to offer financial assistance to those who might need it.

The organization also accepts donations.

“You just meet some wonderful people,” Cicotte said.

Donations to the Sun City Meals on Wheels program can be made by mail to P.O. Box 1842, Sun City, AZ 85372. For information about how to sign up for deliveries or to become a volunteer, call 623-974-9430.

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