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Delivering Meals on Wheels is about more than just the food for Red Cross volunteer Garry.
Garry Nathan started delivering Meals on Wheels in Christchurch five years ago. Since then, he’s gone out of his way to deliver a friendly chat with every meal.
While the core of Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels service is making sure people receive a hot, healthy meal each day, it’s also about providing social connection.
Volunteers like Garry are a welcome face for meal recipients, who are often elderly or disabled and may struggle with loneliness. Red Cross volunteers might be their only visitors each day – which is why Garry’s conversation is so important.
“I get to know which people want a little chat – there’s quite a few along the way,” he explains. “I make quite a few people laugh and get them to smile.”
Delivering Meals on Wheels has also been a good fit for Garry. He was working to overcome mental health issues when his doctor suggested getting involved with Red Cross. The volunteer role has been an opportunity for him to use his skills and build his confidence.
“It keeps my mind working – I think that’s how I’d put it.”
Garry now delivers three routes every week and takes on other routes when fellow volunteers are unable to make it.
He reckons he knows about ten of the Christchurch routes off by heart and has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
“I really enjoy it. It’s rewarding.”
Our Meals on Wheels service helps people living at home by providing them with a healthy meal every day. New Zealand Red Cross volunteers like Garry deliver around 620,000 meals a year - that's nearly 12,000 every week.