my MIFA (generic meals on wheels experience)….elderly.
This is serving double duty as my journal entry for my MIFA “generic-Meals on Wheels” experience and my blog entry, woot.
My first MIFA meals experience was really interesting. I was nervous because of some horror stories I heard from other students. Allison and I showed up and found a few other OTS there, who informed us that the lower the route number, the worse the area. So when we got inside and were given a route number under 10 (out of like 50), it was scary to us. The main lady, Helen, explained how it worked to us, and we nervously set off. The first house we went to was not bad. A very tiny old woman slowly answered, talked to us about how some people just practically threw the food down, and told us repeatedly, God bless. She touched my arm several times and was adorable. The second house we went to had a poorly homemade wheelchair ramp. We walked up and delivered the meal through the crack he opened up to us, and then headed back down that ramp. It was rainy and the ramp was much slippier than I realized, because my feet slipped out from underneath me and I fell on my bottom, arms outstretched in classic Colles fracture pose. It was painful, shocking, and embarassing. My wrists stung and my bottom was sore and SOAKED. Allison and I both laughed about it since I was okay overall. Actually my forearm muscles are somewhat painful but oh well. Only 12 more houses to go! I put a jacket on my carseat and we moved on. It was very easy to find each house and the cold rain was actually helpful in the sense that it meant there weren’t a lot of people loitering outside. Almost all of them opened their door only a crack for us to hand them food. I think we were allowed access to one or two houses. Those houses were INSANELY warm, dark, and cluttered. It was somewhat depressing and also scary to contemplate their lifestyles. All of them seemed to have miniature porches with rusty, depilatled (sp?), chairs on it.
At another point, I commented on how this wasn’t so bad, and then a giant tree branch fell off a tree right next to me because of the stormy weather. It was pretty funny. Allison commented at one point that she was glad we were doing this together because we always seem to end up having fun adventures. (i just outed allison – she only PRETENDS to hate me)…jk
Allison and I went to each house together with the items, and some places it appeared the person was standing at the door, waiting for us. I was wondering if they literally sit there until it comes or what. We were told that if we were worried about safety we could just move on, but that it meant that person wasn’t fed. Talk about a guilt trip.
When we got to the final house, we did actually start to get scared. The street was a little odd and it looked for a minute like we’d end up on this really bad street, and I was like I AM NOT GETTING ON that street because it is famous for being bad. It ended up working out but it was the scariest house we had seen, and we were both uncomfortable. A one-legged man in a wheelchair let us in and was kind. Getting back to the headquarters was actually an ordeal, as they had us go through nasty parts of downtown instead of turning us around and letting us go through the nicer area to get back (I didn’t fully have my bearings to realize this until it was too late.).
Overall it was an overwhelming experience in the sense that I could not believe how they could coordinate so many neighborhoods and routes and keep up with all it. I was surprised so many elderly people volunteered considering it was kind of hard to twist around in the car to put the meals together. I could see it being beneficial from a social standpoint though.
I always got nervous about someone not coming to the door and then us skipping them when in reality they were there and just too slow. Luckily everyone eventually showed up at the door. I kind of look forward to our next two experiences, as long as we aren’t sent to neighborhoods worse than the ones we were in. I guess my first experience was a little odd considering it started with a fall and I had to spend the next two hours in cold wet pants, but I thought it was rewarding to hand people food and know it would hopefully provide them with some easy nourishment. If I did not already have so many other things on my plate volunteer-wise, I would have considered making it my volunteer work! It kind of reminded me how blessed I am, and also how “simple” a simple meal can help someone. A smile and gentle touch is the dessert to that meal, for those that were receptive to it.