By Barbara Sherf
When the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment (CHCE) closed its doors at the end of June, there was still money left in the coffers, and Chestnut Hill Meals on Wheels (CHMOW) was one of three local charities who received a final act of generosity from CHCE, whose officials did not wish to name the other two charities or the amounts donated.
Grif Bates, who became Executive Director of CHMOW this January, said the nonprofit organization graciously accepted the donation with no strings attached to the money. “It was a very generous donation,” he said. “The volunteer base is the engine that drives this organization. However, there are professional services we need in terms of bookkeeping, promotional agencies, accountants and two paid staff members. We also have food costs.”
CHMOW serves elderly and homebound residents of Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown, Lafayette Hill, Oreland, Flourtown, Wyndmoor and Glenside. CHMOW offers two fresh meals a day for $9, or one meal for half that price. Bates said the 43-year-old organization went through some changes two years ago when it moved out of Keystone Care, where they had office space and where meals were prepared in the kitchen of the Wyndmoor hospice.
“We have been working with Halligan’s Pub, and they do a great job preparing the meals. Our clients are very satisfied with the food,” said Bates as volunteers pulled up to the rear parking lot mid-morning to take the insulated containers to clients’ residences. “We have had good luck with fundraising so far this year, but one thing we could use more of is clients. Some clients move or are hospitalized, and today we are serving 50 clients on average.”
Joanna Maier, of Chestnut Hill, joined the organization last December as Operations Coordinator. Maier said their volunteers could deliver significantly more meals. One volunteer, Chestnut Hill resident Rod Bartchy, a retiree, has been delivering meals since 2015. He pulled up alongside Lois Naylor of Mt. Airy, a retired social worker from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. Both were stuffing copies of the Chestnut Hill Local into the insulated bags, as they do every Wednesday.
“While we connect with clients in person when delivering meals, it’s a nice way for the elderly, many of them shut-ins, to stay connected to the larger community by reading the paper,” said Naylor.
CHMOW has also agreed to assume responsibility for running the Harvest Kitchen Tour from CHCE as an annual fundraising event. Bates said it’s too early to mark your calendar for the next Harvest Tour, but the CHMOW team is busy learning how to run the program.
Regarding proposed federal budget cuts to Meals on Wheels, the Chestnut Hill operation does not rely on federal funding, as do many other Meals on Wheels programs. “We rely on grants and donations from individuals and local companies,” Bates said.
Donors and volunteers should call 215-233-5555, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Joanna@chestnuthillmow.com. Their website address is chestnuthillmow.org. When not giving out free hug and telling stories, Flourtown resident Barbara Sherf is busy capturing the stories of businesses and individuals at www.CommunicationsPro.com.