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'Meals on Wheels'
launched in Swan Valley


Left to right: Boyd Kessler, Jan Mielke, Don Erickson (all board members) and Virginia Kessler. The Kessler's said that they really enjoy the meals from the "Meals-On-Wheels" program.



Jan Mielke delivers a meal to Gloria Scheleinz. Gloria said she really enjoys the meals, and that the visit from those delivering the meals makes this service "superior".
Sue Holmes, owner of Hungry Bear Steak House, prepares the dinners for the Meals-On-Wheels program. She and her husband Mike agreed to prepare the meals five days a week for the Meals-On-Wheels program now available to Swan Valley seniors.





March 2, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder


Here's Jan Mielke and Don Erickson delivering the meals last Thursday. The board members of the Swan Valley Senior Services volunteered to deliver the meals five days a week. They drive anywhere from 10 to 20 miles a day.

Don Erickson delivers a meal to Wanda Hall. Standing behind her is her daughter Joyce Witkowski. Joyce has taken care of her mother for the past six years after she had a series of strokes. Joyce said that the service helps so much because caretaking entails so many things, and having one less thing to worry about can make a big difference.

Great hot meals delivered to your home anyone? Swan Valley seniors can now have meals delivered to their homes five days a week thanks to the new Meals-On-Wheels program. The lunches are prepared by Hungry Bear Restaurant, and delivered by the board members of the Swan Valley Senior Services.

Last Thursday's meal included scalloped potatoes and ham, carrots, bread, juice, milk and tapioca pudding! (The board members bought me lunch, and it was a great meal. They didn't make me eat my carrots either. These people are really easy to get along with!)

The meals are available to any senior in the Swan Valley. The cost of the dinners is based on income, and they range from $2 to $5 per meal. The cost is so reasonable due to the donations made to the program and the money received from the Missoula Aging Services. A portion of real estate taxes helps support programs such as this for senior citizens.

And you can order as many meals as you'd like. Many of the clients order extra meals during the week to eat over the weekend.

The Meals-On-Wheels program got started after a few residents met with the Missoula Aging Services in June. They assessed the needs of the community, and providing meals to seniors was their first goal. That became a reality January 31st. During the first two weeks, they delivered 70 meals.

Several of the clients are unable to dine out or cook their own meals. A few of the clients are able to get a great meal at a reduced price because of the income-based charge. And some of the clients just love the convenience of a good hot meal without having to cook.

Gloria Scheleinz, 77, takes seven meals a week. Two are for the weekend. While she does cook some for herself, she said she thinks the service provided by the Meals-On-Wheels is wonderful.

"The food is so good, and what makes it so superior is the people who deliver it," she said. "It's contact with people. I was kinda giving up, and having these people come in really helps."

Joyce Witkowski takes meals for her mother who has lived with her for the past six years after a series of strokes.

"It's so helpful to me," she said. "Anyone who is caring for the elderly should consider taking this service. It's one less thing on the list of things to do. If it's used by enough people, the service will continue in this area. It's a huge help."

The folks who deliver the meals are strictly volunteer. They drive anywhere from 10 to 20 miles a day, and while they are not reimbursed for mileage, they agree that just being able to provide such a wonderful service is enough.

"They enjoy the food and we enjoy being able to do it," Mielke said. "Many of the people are just happy to have the company."

One of the board members, Boyd Kessler, says he has the meals delivered to him and his wife so he can be the "quality control specialist", but then he laughs and admits that they get the meals because it's great food and they don't have to mess with cooking.

"It's a great service," Kessler said. "We loved the food at the Seeley Seniors Center, but the drive was so long. Now we have the service right here."

Board members include: Jan Mielke, Don Erickson, Boyd Kessler, Jan Wheeler, Maryann Judge, Rich Nelson and Alan Taylor.

If you are interested in having meals delivered to your home or know someone who isn't eating right, you may call Don Erickson at 754-2684, Jan Mielke at 754-2373 or leave a message with the secretary toll free at 1-888-850-8898.

Besides the Meals-On-Wheels program, the residents and the Swan Valley Elementary School are working on a plan to build a facility to house a kitchen and dining area for both local seniors and the grade school students. Presently, no hot lunches are available at the Swan Valley Elementary. The facility would also include a community multi-media center and new library.

Both the board of the Swan Valley Senior Services and Principal Kitty Logan said that they would like to build the new facility through fund-raisers and grants instead of a mill levy. For information about the plans, you may call board members Don Erickson or Jan Mielke at the above listed numbers, or Kitty Logan at 754-2320.

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